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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Early Puberty in Girls May be Linked to Absent Fathers

  • Jim Liebelt
    Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
  • 2010 Sep 21
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A new study finds there may be a link between early puberty and girls living in higher-income households without a biological father.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health, looked at data on 444 ethnically diverse girls age 6 to 8, 80 of whom had no biological father living at home at the time of the study. Researchers noted the girls' onset of puberty (breast and pubic hair development), body mass index, ethnicity and income. Among the 80 participants, 21% had other men living at home, including stepfathers.

Not having a biological father at home was associated with earlier breast development, but only for girls who lived in families with incomes over $50,000. Not having a father at home was linked with  earlier development of pubic hair among African American girls living in higher income homes. Factoring in BMI did not change the results.

The study offered some reasons for the link: higher-income families may have weaker support systems than lower-income families; mothers working outside of the home may put extra stress on family life and relationships; and having fathers leave while kids are young may indicate early familiarity with marital discord; and children living in higher-income households may have more exposure to environmental toxins that may have an effect on puberty.

Source: Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-heb-puberty-20100918,0,909618.story