Whether children, especially girls, are entering and progressing through puberty earlier today than in the mid-1900s has been debated. Secular trend analysis, based on available data, is limited by data comparability among studies in different populations, in different periods of time, and using different methods. As a result, conclusions from data comparisons have not been consistent. An expert panel was asked to evaluate the weight of evidence for whether the data, collected from 1940 to 1994, are sufficient to suggest or establish a secular trend in the timing of puberty markers in US boys or girls. A majority of the panelists agreed that data are sufficient to suggest a trend toward an earlier breast development onset and menarche in girls but not for other female pubertal markers. A minority of panelists concluded that the current data on girls' puberty timing for any marker are insufficient. Almost all panelists concluded, on the basis of few studies and reliability issues of some male puberty markers, that current data for boys are insufficient to evaluate secular trends in male pubertal development. The panel agreed that altered puberty timing should be considered an adverse effect, although the magnitude of change considered adverse was not assessed. The panel recommended (1) additional analyses of existing puberty-timing data to examine secular trends and trends in the temporal sequence of pubertal events; (2) the development of biomarkers for pubertal timing and methods to discriminate fat versus breast tissue, and (3) establishment of cohorts to examine pubertal markers longitudinally within the same individuals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health