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Like Girls, Boys Are Entering Puberty Earlier
by Patti Neighmond
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
It has been known for some time that girls are starting puberty開始青春期 earlier than in the past, sometimes as young as age 7 or 8. It has been unclear whether boys are also entering puberty earlier. It appears they are, according to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics美國小兒科醫學會. NPR's Patti Neighmond has the report.
PATTI NEIGHMOND, BYLINE: Fred Goodall is the father of a 9-year-old boy. He thought he wouldn't have to have the puberty talk青春期對談 for a few more years. But the fact of the matter is for African-American非裔美人 boys puberty can begin as early as . Goodall wrote about his daughter going through puberty on his parenting blog育兒經部落格, Mocha Dad.
Now, with his son, there are feelings, a bit of , a sort of premature loss of innocence提早消失的童真.
FRED GOODALL: He still plays with Legos樂高積木, he still plays with his action figures軍隊或是士兵造型的玩偶. He reads comic books漫畫書. You know, he wants me to give him piggyback rides騎在某人背後，讓某人揹著跑 and things like that things like that and, you know, all these things aren't the things you associate with聯想/連結 puberty.
NEIGHMOND: It's easier to tell when are going through puberty because of developing breasts胸部發育 and menstruation月經.
Marcia Herman-Giddens is a public health researcher 公共衛生研究員at the University of North Carolina. She did the original studies原始研究 looking at early puberty in girls. Now, she's replicated複製 those studies with more than 4,000 boys. And the findings are similar: Boys are entering puberty進入青春期 toyears earlier than they used to.
MARCIA HERMAN-GIDDENS: The first signs徵兆 of puberty in boys, for white boys we found they wereyears of age, African-American boys were years, and Hispanic拉丁裔boys were years.
NEIGHMOND: As with girls, researchers don't know why. There are some ideas; most have to do with today's modern, starting with easy access to容易取得 lots of .
HERMAN-GIDDENS: We have often-talked about the problem now of overweight體重過重, , you know, really what some people call over-nutrition營養過剩, an abundance of calories卡路里過多,高蛋白 foods.
NEIGHMOND: For girls, being overweight has been linked to early puberty. And that could also be the case for boys. Another possible trigger for girls: estrogen-like chemicals in the environment環境雌激素(又稱內分泌干擾素Endocrine disrupter substance). That hasn't been proved - and it's likely not a cause for because estrogen isn't involved in the changes that come with puberty.
Whatever the reason, Herman-Giddens says the focus now should be on helping boys cope幫助男孩面對(問題/狀況).
HERMAN-GIDDENS: Just because the child's body is developing sexually earlier, that doesn't mean their cognition認知 and their judgment判斷力 and their other mental abilities精神/心理上的能力 that go along with becoming anare becoming earlier. They are not.
NEIGHMOND: Which is why pediatrician小兒科醫生 Richard Wasserman, who heads帶領 the research arm of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says the best way to deal with面對/因應 early puberty is to have a very and discussion非常明確且仔細的討論 with your son about how his is going to change.
RICHARD WASSERMAN: And he needs to be helped to understand that his body is changing and is going to continue to change as he progresses成長 from being ato being a .
NEIGHMOND: Doctors can help, so can . Fred Goodall just bought one and hopes to have the talk when his son is off school for the holidays學校放假.
GOODALL: Because, you know, I want to give him some time to have it sink in沉澱/領悟. But I don't want it to be so in his mind that he is, you know, going telling all his friends at school and, you know, causing some problems with them. So I want some time for it to within his mind讓這個話題在他的腦袋裡面轉久一點.
GOODALL: And for him to kind of think about it and have it not to be such a big deal有什麼大不了 when he returns to school.
NEIGHMOND: The important thing, says Dr. Wasserman, is being in your new and developing body對自己逐漸發育的新身體感到自在.
WASSERMAN: An earlier-maturing早熟的 boy, there'll be some things about that for him in the 短期內. He'll get bigger. He'll be stronger. But he also may feel awkward尷尬. He may feel 笨拙的. And he may be teased. Certainly, these are things that parents need to be prepared for準備好.
NEIGHMOND: Which is a good reason for medical checkups, even if your child is .
Patti Neighmond, NPR News.