Physical Changes of Puberty

In females, secondary sexual characteristic development is a result of estrogens from the ovaries. Breast budding is generally the first sexual characteristic to appear, and is most commonly classified by Marshall and Tanner's (1969) 5 stages of development, as illustrated in Table 16.1. Breast development begins in the United States between ages 8 and 13, with a mean age of 9.96 for White girls and a mean age of 8.87 for African American girls (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997). The process of developing mature breasts from breast budding takes approximately 4.5 years, regardless of whether or not girls enter puberty earlier or later than average (Brooks-Gunn & Reiter, 1990). Pubic hair development typically begins shortly after breast budding; however approximately 20 percent of girls experience pubic hair development prior to breast budding.

Pubic hair development begins in the United States between the ages of 8 and 13 years, with a mean age 10.5 years in White girls and 8.8 years for African American girls (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997). Table 16.1 illustrates the 5 stages of pubertal hair development in girls. Menarche is a late sign of pubertal development in girls and occurs following the peak in height velocity and during the rapid increase in weight and body fat (Tanner, 1978). The mean age of menarche in North America is 12.88 years for White girls and 12.16 years for African American girls (Herman-Giddens et al., 1997).

In males, secondary sexual characteristic development is a result of testosterone from the testes. The onset of testicular growth is the initial sign of pubertal development, which occurs on average

Table 16.1

The Five Pubertal Stages for Breast and Pubic Hair Growth in Girls

Stage Pubic Hair Development Breast Development

Table 16.1

The Five Pubertal Stages for Breast and Pubic Hair Growth in Girls

Stage Pubic Hair Development Breast Development

The Polarity Path

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