Puberty is the period in which individuals develop into adulthood, often characterized by physical and hormonal changes. Over the past century, there have been several significant shifts in our understanding of puberty – from when it begins and ends to how it affects people’s health. Here we explore these trends to better understand what has changed over time and why.
Trends in understanding puberty over the last 100 years and reasons for these trends.
In the early 1900s, doctors assumed that puberty began at age 14 for boys and 12 for girls (Sawyer & Aronson, 2005). This timeline was based on a study published by psychologist G. Stanley Hall that analyzed data from 3200 European children (Hall, 1904). Though flawed due to its reliance on self-reported ages of puberty onset from adults recalling their own experiences during childhood, this research set an influential precedent for what came after.
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