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Too Big for Their Britches (and Brains)

April 26, 1999

Speaking of the brain, ever wonder why teenage boys always seem to be stumbling over something--the furniture, the family dog, their own feet?

Scientists in Scotland think they have the answer: Boys simply grow too fast for their brains.

The brain can't keep up when boys in their early teens go through growth spurts that can add 3 to 4 inches to their stature in a matter of months, according to a report in The Times of London.

To test their theory, researchers at Strathclyde University in Glasgow put 55 boys in a gym with mats. They were asked to carry long rods with a weight attached to a hook on the end. Holding the rods like fishing poles, they were instructed to see how far they could reach to deposit the weight on the ground--without losing their balance.

"We found that the high-growth boys fell over twice as many times," researcher Dorothy Heffernan told the London newspaper. "They kept leaning forward until they fell down."

Teen girls are less clumsy because their growth spurts aren't so dramatic, the researchers said.

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