MadSci Network: Development

Re: Why do people 'chnage' in teen yrs. and not as adults or small children?

Date: Fri Nov 30 09:23:22 2001
Posted By: David Mallory, Faculty, Biological Sciences, Marshall University
Area of science: Development
ID: 1006558460.Dv


I assume you are asking about the "changes" that occur to teens as they 
move through puberty.  Puberty is a transition phase from the period of 
childhood when the reproductive system is dormant to the period of young 
adulthood, when the reproductive system becomes functional.  As part of 
this maturation of the reproductive system, hormones such as testosterone 
(male) and estrogens (female) are released in much higher quantity than 
during the period of childhood.  In addition to helping to mature the 
reproductive organs inside the body, these hormones produce changes in the 
external organs of the reproductive system. Additionally, hair will grow in 
various places on the body, including the pelvic region, under the arms and 
in males on the face.  Males also will experience deepening of the tone 
of their voice due to thickening of the vocal chord and see increases in 
muscle size and strength especially in the upper body.  Females will see 
new contours in their bodies including breast development and broadening of 
the hips.  These features signal to others that the individual is becoming 
reproductively competent.  Also, "attitudes" change, sometimes 
dramatically, during this period.  Both males and females may become more 
outwardly interested in the opposite sex. Many people experience the desire 
to become more independent and desire less "advice" from their parents.  
These changes are important in the individual acquiring an independence and 
a better understanding of "who they are" which will carry them on as 

Louis, there are many changes that occur throughout the life of an 
individual.  During infancy, so many changes occur that it is impossible to 
list them here.  Just think of how much change is necessary for a baby to 
acquire the strength and coordination to learn to walk, or the changes in 
the brain that must occur for the baby to learn to talk!  Similarly, 
changes in the adult occur as the individual ages. Many people who did not 
need glasses as a younger person soon must have prescription lens. Muscle 
mass decreases and fat deposits increase with increasing age.  The same 
hormones that were responsible for the changes at puberty, often begin to 
decline and the positive influence on the body they provide begins to 

So Louis, part of being a human being is the wonderful changes that occur 
throughout the entire lifetime of the individual. Each phase of life has 
its joys and without change these events would not be possible.

I hope this helps!

Dr. David Mallory
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Marshall University
Huntington, WV 

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