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Is puberty getting earlier? The views of doctors and teachers


Dr Fiona Finlay, Department of Community Child Health, Bath and North East Somerset NHS Primary Care Trust, Bath NHS House, Newbridge Hill, Bath BA1 3QE, UK E-mail:


Aims To determine the views of teachers, general practitioners (GPs) and paediatricians about whether there has been a recent change in the timing of the onset of puberty in children in the UK and in the timing of menarche in girls.

Design Questionnaires were sent to a stratified random sample of each professional group.

Results In relation to girls, almost 80% of teachers believe that the onset of puberty is occurring earlier, and 73% feel that the menarche is occurring earlier. Those who had been working for longer than 10 years were more likely to say that the age of onset of puberty had decreased. GPs feel that both puberty and menarche are starting earlier, whereas paediatricians were evenly divided between those who thought puberty was starting earlier and those who thought that the timing had not changed. In boys, professionals generally believe that the timing of the onset of puberty has not altered significantly.

Conclusion Further study is required to determine whether puberty is really occurring earlier in girls.