Girls Who Enter Puberty Early Are At Higher Risk Of Depression

By Arvin Matthew, Parent Herald June 07, 04:30 am

Most girls nowadays are experiencing puberty at a much earlier age. This trend has been detected all over the world from the United States to countries in Europe and Asia. While the causes for this is still being debated by scientists, a newly-released study has revealed one of its striking effects.

Depressing Observation

In a study published in the Pediatrics journal, researchers at City University of New York School of Public Health wanted to know if there was a link between early puberty and depression. The researchers derived their findings from analyzing the health records of 8,327 children born in Hong Kong from April to May 1997.

"What we found was the girls who had earlier breast development had a higher risk of depressive symptoms, or more depressive symptoms," Dr. C. Mary Schooling revealed to The New York Times. "We didn't see the same thing for boys."

Schooling and her colleagues theorized that the earlier development of breasts, the introduction of more estrogen to the body and weight gain caused girls to feel more depressed than boys at the onset of puberty. It was also revealed that both sexes experienced the same rate of depression before puberty, but during puberty, girls are 2 and a half times more prone to depression than boys.

Dr. Jane Mendle, a clinical psychologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, said that depression isn't the only negative side effect of early puberty in girls. She also cited self-depreciation, self-injury and sporadic eating habits.

Gestational Diabetes

Medical Xpress noted that daughters of overweight mothers who have gestational diabetes are more likely to experience early puberty than daughters of physically fit and healthy mothers. Aside from having increased risk of depression, daughters of overweight mothers also tend to be overweight later in life.

The child's exposure to gestational diabetes and maternal obesity reportedly affects his or her metabolic programming. This results in the earlier onsets of puberty, depression and weight gain.

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