Puberty's quickening march through the ages

GIRLS are not alone in reaching adulthood at an increasingly early age, a study of mortality trends across Europe and the UK has shown. 

The “accident hump” in males – a rise in injuries linked to surging testosterone levels in late adolescence – was seen to occur progressively earlier through the generations.

Male sexual maturity occurred on average around 10 weeks earlier each decade since at least the middle of the 18th century, as the study concluded “being 18 today is like being 22 in 1800”.

“While adolescents become adults earlier in a biological sense, they reach adulthood later, regarding their social and economic roles.”

PLoS One 2011, online 16 August