Fifty-nine teacher candidates provided self-reported information about their knowledge and awareness of the phenomenon of early female puberty. The students, enrolled in a one-credit mandatory health course, were matriculated in teacher education programs in Childhood and Adolescence education. They were asked to identify causes and risks associated with early female puberty. In addition, the students indicated whether or not they believed that the age of female puberty was dropping in the United States.
Among the participants, 29% identified obesity as a risk factor associated with early puberty, while 78% were unaware of the relationship between early puberty and environmental contaminants. The majority, 56%, were aware that early puberty was a risk factor for early sexual activity and low self-esteem though only 21% and 11% respectively were able to link early puberty with substance abuse and poor academic performance. Eighty-one percent of female students compared to 54 percent of male students indicated they believed the age of female puberty was dropping.
Overall, many teacher candidates were unaware of the etiologies associated with early female puberty which include obesity and environmental contaminants. The majority were not knowledgeable about the implications which involve several behavioral issues which are correlated with lack of academic success.