Researchers at American Academy of Pediatrics in the United States have found that not just the girls, but even boys are reaching puberty earlier than what is viewed as the standard age.
The researchers recruited around 200 pediatricians across 41 states to observe around 4,100 boys between 6 and 16 years of age. The pediatricians measured the testicular size of the boys using orchidometer, which compares the size of the testicles with oval wooden or plastic beads of increasing size. The normal size of adults is 22 milliliters while 3 or 4 milliliters is considered to be an indicator of puberty.
The researchers found that the boys were reaching puberty six months to two years earlier than the 11 ˝ years that was considered to be the benchmark age for the onset of puberty. The researchers also found that African American boys reached puberty faster than Hispanic, non Hispanic or white boys.
Trying to explain the faster onset of puberty, lead researcher Marcia Herman-Giddens said that it could not be due to genetic evolution. "The changes are too fast. Genetics take maybe hundreds, thousands of years. You have to look at something in the environment. That would include everything from (a lack of) exercise to junk food to TV to chemicals", she said.