Tips for teens on early puberty.

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Puberty comes as you grow up!

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What is puberty? It is the earliest age at which you can have children. Some people call it sexual maturity. For a year or two at puberty, girls start to develop breasts, boys' sex organs develop, voices change, hair grows under the armpits and other places.

Researchers at England's Bristol University found that puberty now starts much earlier than it used to. After studying 14,000 children from birth, researchers found that one girl in six reaches puberty by the age of eight. Only 40 years ago it was one girl in 100.

Boys usually reach sexual maturity later than girls, but even so, one boy in 14 now reaches puberty by the age of eight. Forty years ago it was one boy in 150.

What causes early puberty?

Possible reasons for early puberty are:

  • better nutrition, which leads to greater body mass and more body fat, which can start puberty
  • lack of exercise (in very active children, such as gymnasts, puberty starts later, so inactivity may start puberty earlier)
  • stress (girls whose parents divorce, for instance, may start puberty earlier)
  • chemicals in food (chemicals in food, and chemicals fed to chickens to get them to grow quicker, have caused early puberty in girls).

Is early puberty good, or bad?

Earlier puberty is neither good nor bad. It is just something that happens. But one problem is that parents of the earlier developers sometimes don't believe that puberty can start so early, so they worry when there is no need to.

Another problem is that those who reach sexual maturity before others in their class sometimes mix with older kids. This means they are in danger of dropping friends their own age, which is not good.

For example, if a 12-year-old mixes with 16-year-olds, the older teens expect the 12-year-old to have the same experiences and reactions as they do, which isn't always possible. This may make the younger teen worried about “fitting in”, and take on experiences he or she is not ready for.

How to handle puberty

  • Keep friends your own age. If you reach puberty early, don't start dropping friends your own age to make older friends. Before long you will all be equal anyway.
  • If you reach puberty later than some of your friends, don't worry about it. It happens at different times for different people. Just be yourself, but realize that any of your friends who reach puberty before you do may also feel uncomfortable because they “feel” older than they are.

What does the Bible say?

The Bible is good evidence that people are reaching sexual maturity earlier today. Adam was 130 years old when he and Eve gave birth to Seth (Genesis 5:3). Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was 90 when they had a child (Genesis 17:17). In fact, in the early generations after God created the world, parents gave birth to their children when they were very old. The age of sexual maturity got lower as human life-spans got shorter.

There is evidence that this trend has continued. In 1990, archaeologists in Griswold, Connecticut, unearthed some graves dating to the late 1600s to early 1700s. Excavators found the remains of 13 children. One child's coffin had the initials N.B. and an age: “N.B. — age 13.” Even though this child was 13, an examination showed that by today's standards the child would be 9 or 10. If that child was typical, in only 300 years maturity rates have increased by more than 30 per cent.

To sum up, there is nothing either good or bad about early or late puberty. It happens at different ages, so whatever age it starts in you is the normal, natural age for you.

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