Boys and Girls Hitting Puberty Early: New information from the University of North Carolina has determined boys are starting puberty earlier than previously thought, reports CNN.

While it was previously known that girls are beginning puberty earlier, it was more difficult to ascertain the beginning of puberty for boys. With girls, signs of the beginning of the teenage hormonal upheaval include menstruation as well as breast tissue development, but with boys the changes are more difficult to observe.

Looking at 4,100 boys aged 6 to 16, "The practitioners recorded information on the boys' genital size and pubic hair appearance," said CNN. The conclusion of the study was organized by race: African-American boys begin the onset of puberty at 9 years old, while non-Hispanic white and Hispanic boys begin developing around 10 years old.

Pediatricians need to know what to expect from their patients as well as the public-at-large need to know what to expect from their offspring. With boys starting puberty earlier, we could require a shift in our sexual education and public health priorities. Additionally, the hormonal changes affect the brain, and could require additional psychological considerations.

The worry is that the genetics aren't the cause of this early-onset puberty, but instead changes in our environment. While the changes have yet to be determined causes are thought to include, "everything from (a lack of) exercise to junk food to TV to chemicals," said the lead author. Not to mention child obesity and other factors. via CNN