Thursday, August 19, 2010

Early puberty?

There have been a number of pieces lately questioning the widespread claims that puberty has been getting earlier due to chemicals such as Bisphenol A. I suspect these critics are correct.

There is a an easy to read piece about the issue here.

No one disputes, by the way, that the age of first period, or menarche, declined from about ages 14-15 to 12-13 between 1900 and 1960. Some critics, and again, I suspect they are right, suggest that the sexual revolution was largely driven by this earlier decline in the age of puberty and not by the social factors often given the credit.

More Rob Roy tomorrow by the way.

1 comment:

  1. The Slate article is interesting, and I've heard other things about Bisphenol-A, i.e., that it can increase estrogen levels in adult men thus lowering testosterone which can lead to other problems. A few years ago others were attributing the alleged decline in the onset of puberty to antibiotics and growth hormones fed to livestock which then made their way into the food chain. I did not realize that the age of menarche has remained relatively stable since 1960.

    Its possible that the sexual revolution was caused by the decline in menarche between 1900 and 1960, rather than social factors, or maybe a combination of the two. Or that the earlier onset of puberty contributed to the social factors which drove the sexual revolution. I do remember my parents talking with their friends one evening (when they thought I was out of earshot) about two 8th grade girls (age 12?)at the public jr. high school who had become pregnant. This would have to have been around 1962 or 1963, and I think at that time it was uncommon for kids that young to be having sex. When I was 17 I heard about a friend of mine who had sex with his girlfriend, and I began to worry that there was something wrong with me because I hadn't had sex as yet. But as I got older, went to college, it became apparent to me that I wasn't the only one. I think throughout the '60s it was the college age population and older who were actually "doing" the sexual revolution, having pre-marital sex with no plans to get married, or living together openly. Today, from what we read and hear, its not uncommon for kids 12 and 13 to be having sex.