The Onset Age of Puberty May Predict A Teen's Future Health

Puberty isn't pretty, but it's pretty important. 


Any life stage that makes a person extra hairy, sweaty, moody, and awkward is unlikely to be considered desirable, but puberty is a necessary evil in the transition to adulthood. While all teens do undergo this phase of adolescent development, they don’t all experience pubescent changes at the same time, which, according to new research, actually has a significant impact on their future health.

A recently published study from the University of Cambridge examined the age at which men reported their first vocal changes and women reported their first menstruation period to find that that the time at which puberty strikes can serve as an indicator of the later manifestation of almost 50 health conditions, including asthma, arthritis, depression, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Twenty percent of female participants had their first period from age 8-11, and almost 17 percent did so at age 15-19, while the average age of onset was 11. As for the guys, 4 percent claimed to be “relatively younger” when their voice broke, and 6 percent said they were “relatively older.”

Researchers then paired the study with other findings to discover that people in either the earliest or latest 20 percentile of puberty onset age were more at risk for developing a late-life disease than those in the middle 20 percent.

Admitting that “a cross-sectional study of this kind cannot distinguish between cause and effect,” study author Dr. Felix Day claimed the following:

“It may be that puberty is acting as a marker of underlying genetics associated with certain diseases, and in a few cases it may be that the disease itself starts early in life and then affects puberty timing.”

Whether your teen blooms early, late, or right on time, you can help them through the tricky transition with this resource guide to puberty.  It helps make the inevitably awkward conversation a bit easier.