Early poor mental health link to early puberty

April 2, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Children who have an earlier onset of puberty have poorer mental health from as early as preschool age, a new study by Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has found.

The study, which followed almost 3,500 children from age four through to 11, found boys with an by eight to nine years of age had greater and poorer emotional and social adjustment from early childhood (four to five years of age). This pattern continued through to early adolescence. Girls with early puberty had more difficulties in emotional and social adjustment from early childhood, but not the behavioural problems found in boys.

The research used the Longitudinal Study of Australian children, in which the parents of the children were interviewed at four time points, and asked questions on puberty transition and timing, behaviour difficulties and psychosocial questions on emotional, social and school functioning. The study found that these differences remained even after accounting for other factors that may be linked to early puberty and mental health, including ethnicity, and family socioeconomic situation.

Lead researcher, Dr Fiona Mensah, says the study provides new evidence of pre-existing and persistent early childhood differences in socio-emotional well being amongst children who experience early puberty.

"There is a heightened risk for behaviour and emotional problems during puberty; and children who reach puberty earlier than their peers have more of these difficulties in adolescence."

"We think that the association between early onset puberty and poorer adolescent mental health is due to that start well before the onset of puberty and continue into adolescence."

Professor George Patton says the study supports a 'life course' hypothesis, being that differences in pubertal timing and childhood adjustment may at least, in part, be the result of genetic and environmental factors early in life.

"Understanding what lies behind early puberty may also tell us much about the origins of emotional and of children and adolescents."

The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Explore further: Starting puberty very early carries risks of psychological problems, suggests new review

More information: Early Puberty and Childhood Social and Behavioral Adjustment, www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(13)00048-7/abstract

Related Stories

Boys who mature rapidly have more depression

May 8, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Boys who reach sexual maturity more rapidly than their peers have more problems getting along with others their age and are at a higher risk for depression, according to a Cornell study published in Developmental ...

Study documents early puberty onset in boys

October 20, 2012

A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has documented that boys in the U.S. are experiencing the onset of puberty six months to two years earlier than reported in previous research.

Recommended for you

In analyzing a scene, we make the easiest judgments first

September 3, 2015

Psychology researchers who have hypothesized that we classify scenery by following some order of cognitive priorities may have been overlooking something simpler. New evidence suggests that the fastest categorizations our ...

Forensic examiners pass the face matching test

September 1, 2015

The first study to test the skills of FBI agents and other law enforcers who have been trained in facial recognition has provided a reassuring result - they perform better than the average person or even computers on this ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.