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October 22nd, 2012
08:03 AM ET

Study: Boys starting puberty earlier – Elizabeth Cohen explains

A new study in the journal Pediatrics shows that boys are now hitting puberty six months to two years earlier than in studies looking at previous decades. Researchers don’t know why this is the case, but recent studies show a similar effect in girls going through puberty. CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has more on the study.

Cohen says the numbers are also different by race. African-American boys are hitting puberty at just over 9 years old, white boys and Hispanic boys are hitting puberty at a little over 10 years old. “When pediatricians see this data, they think,” Cohen says, “maybe parents need to be having that talk with their boys a little sooner than they would have.”

While no one is quite sure of the reason why boys may be hitting puberty earlier, “there are all sorts of theories out there,” Cohen says.

“Perhaps it’s hormones in our food, hormones in our environment, perhaps it’s because boys, like girls, are fatter than they used to be, and fat plays a role in hormone production.” There is also no guaranteed way to stave off puberty, but parents can avoid using products with BPA in them and also eat hormone-free foods to try and prevent early puberty, Cohen reports.

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Filed under: Puberty