Children are growing taller today than in the past
QUESTION: Children seem to be growing up at a younger age today than in the past. Is this true, and if so, what accounts for their faster development?
DR. DOBSON: Yes, it is true. Statistical records indicate that our children are growing taller today than in the past, probably resulting from better nutrition, medicine, exercise, rest and recreation. And this more ideal physical environment has apparently caused sexual maturity to occur at younger and younger ages. It is thought that puberty in a particular child is triggered when he or she reaches a certain level of growth; therefore, when environmental and general health factors propel a youngster upward at a faster rate, sexual maturation occurs earlier.
For example, in 1850 the average age of menarche (first menstruation) in Norwegian girls was 17.0 years of age; in 1950, it was 13.0. The average age of puberty in females had dropped four years in one century. In the United States the average age of menarche dropped from 16.5 in 1840 to 12.9 in 1950. More recent figures indicate that it now occurs on average at 12.8 years of age! Thus, the trend toward younger dating and sexual awareness is a result, at least in part, of this “fast track” mechanism.