American boys are hitting puberty earlier than ever before, says a new study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The study included data of more than 4,000 boys aged between 6 and 16 from 41 states in the U.S. Data on physical development of boys was collected from pediatric offices.

The data analysis showed that boys in the U.S. are reaching puberty earlier. Researchers found that African American boys were more likely to reach puberty early (at 9.14 years) when compared to white boys (10.14 years) or Hispanic boys (10.4 years). Overall, the average age at which boys hit puberty was reduced by 6 months to as much as 2 years in the recent years, researchers found.

Frank Biro, director of adolescent medicine at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center told USA Today that the reason for early onset of puberty among African American boys isn't just genetic. "Race and ethnicity incorporate a lot of different factors, some of them genetic, some of them cultural," he said to USA Today. Biro wasn't part of the current research.

A study published in 2010 had shown that girls in the U.S. are maturing earlier now than few decades back.

"Kids who mature physically at a younger age tend to be placed in situations that are consistent with how they look, which is older than they really are," said Jane Mendle, director of the Adolescent Transitions Lab at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, as reported by USA Today.

Dr. Richard Wasserman, an author of the study and director of Pediatric Research in Office Settings at the American Academy of Pediatrics said that tracking signs of puberty is important "so that parents can guide a child," Huffington Post reports.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics.