Chemicals May Be Contributing to Early Puberty
Boys in the U.S. are entering puberty at an earlier age, and exposure to chemicals in the environment may be one of the reasons why, according to a study published in September’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study analyzed federal data from 1988 to 1994 and found that the average age for developing pubic hair was up half a year from earlier studies. Twenty-one percent of African-American boys had developed public hair between their ninth and tenth birthday, compared to 4.3 percent of white boys and 3.3 percent of Mexican-American boys. The study’s lead author, Marcia Herman-Giddens of the University of North Carolina, said chemicals that mimic sex hormones could be contributing to the earlier development. Obesity and soy products that mimic sex hormones were among other potential reasons for the change.