A new study says girls who experience their first menstrual period as early as age seven are at a greater risk of developing depression and anti-social behaviours.
Jane Mendle, lead author of the study, said such girls were found to be “psychologically vulnerable” in their adolescent years.
“Puberty has repercussions for virtually all domains of life,” said Mendle.
“Girls who go through puberty earlier than peers tend to be more psychologically vulnerable during adolescence.
“Girls who went through earlier puberty are still showing higher rates of depressive symptoms and antisocial behavior than their peers well over a decade past adolescence.
While Mendle said other researches suggest that obesity or exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in plastics and flame retardants may play a role, Ellen Selkie, medicine specialist with the University of Michigan, explained that the cause of early puberty is unknown.
Selkie also said there is no proven way to prevent early puberty.
Selkie said the connection between early puberty and depression are probably biological and psychological.
“There’s some thought that early estrogen exposure might increase the risk for depression, but there are also the factors of being different physically from other kids if you experience puberty at an earlier age,” she said.
“If your child is developing earlier than their peers, it’s important to pay close attention to how they are feeling.
“So that if interventions are needed, such as psychotherapy or medications, we can get those started and hopefully prevent further problems in the future.”
The study was published online on December 26 in Pediatrics.
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