Impacts of Family Structure on Puberty Onset in Girls
Jim Liebelt Jim Liebelt's Blog
- 2020 Nov 09
*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on MedicalXpress.
Girls who do not live with both parents from birth to age two may be at higher risk of starting puberty at a younger age than girls living with both parents, research published in the open-access journal BMC Pediatrics suggests. The authors suggest that their findings support the hypothesis that stress in early life may influence puberty onset. The risk of early puberty onset could potentially be mitigated by interventions aiming to improve child wellbeing, according to the authors.
A team of researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research, U.S., found that girls who did not live with both parents from birth to age two were 38% more likely to begin their period before the age of 12 compared with girls who lived with both parents. Girls who did not live with both parents between the ages of two and six were 18% more likely than girls whose parents lived together to begin their period before the age of 12.
Early puberty is associated with an increased risk of mental and emotional problems during adolescence. In addition, girls who begin puberty early are at increased risk for various conditions such as heart disease and breast and uterine cancer.
The authors also found that girls who did not live with both parents from birth to age two were 29% more likely to begin developing breasts earlier and 21% more likely to start the growth of pubic hair earlier, compared to girls who lived with both parents. Girls who did not live with both parents between the ages of two and six were 13% more likely to start developing breasts and 15% more likely to start developing pubic hair earlier than girls who lived with both parents.
To examine family structure and puberty onset in girls the authors used electronic health record data of girls born between 2003 and 2010 within the Kaiser Permanente Northern California healthcare system. Out of the 26,044 girls included in the study, 2,034 (8%) lived with one parent before the age of two and 2,186 (8%) lived with one parent between the ages of two and six.