Early puberty can bring trouble for girls

By Tom Nordlie • Published: November 8th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

When young people try to grow up fast, they can get into trouble.

Grown-up activities like smoking, drinking and sex aren’t risk-free.

Many adolescents end up pregnant, arrested, sick or worse, as a consequence of their wild times.

Adults often blame these situations on bad judgment.

But sometimes nature plays a role, too.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, girls who reach puberty early are more likely to experience certain problems as teenagers.

Those problems include pregnancy, brushes with the law, depression and running away from home.

In the study, researchers tracked more than fourteen-hundred girls from early adolescence to adulthood.

The results showed that girls who hit puberty early almost always had greater incidence of negative life events.

They included everything from alcohol and drug use to skipping school to bullying their peers.

The researchers didn’t try to determine why the girls who matured early had these problems.

But they did uncover a piece of good news… these effects were temporary.

When the study ended, the participants were ages nineteen and twenty-one.

At that point, women who’d matured early were no longer at greater risk for the problems they’d had during adolescence. The only exceptions were conduct issues and sexual promiscuity.

Meanwhile, the women who’d hit puberty on schedule were having more frequent battles with substance use.

So perhaps things balance out in the long run.

This study shows that girls who reach physical maturity first need extra support at home.

With understanding and guidance, they’ll have a better chance of reaching adulthood relatively unscathed, despite the curveball nature threw at them.