Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Early puberty in girls linked to bad behaviour

11 December 2013, 09:42

Abuja - Girls who hit puberty early might be more likely than their peers to get into fights or skip school, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that girls who started their menstrual periods early – before age 11 – were more likely to admit to a "delinquent act". Those acts included getting into fights at school, skipping classes and running away from home.

Early bloomers also seemed more susceptible to the negative influence of friends who behaved badly, the researchers said in the online issue of the journal Paediatrics.

This study is not the first to find a connection between early puberty and delinquency, but none of the findings can prove that early maturation is definitely to blame.

"There could also be other reasons, such as family structure and socio-economic status, that may drive both early puberty and problem behaviours," said lead researcher Sylvie Mrug, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.


Mrug said her team tried to account for factors such as family income, and early puberty itself was still tied to a greater risk of delinquency. So it's possible, Mrug said, that early maturation affects girls' behaviour in some way.

On the other hand, she said, one theory is that there is a "mismatch" between physical development and emotional development in kids who start puberty earlier than average.

"These girls look older and are treated by others as older, but they may not have the social and [thinking] skills to deal with these external pressures," Mrug said.

"It is typical for girls with early breast development to be treated differently," said Dr Frank Biro, a professor of clinical paediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, in Ohio.

This study defined early puberty based on menstruation, but breast development comes first. It's the sign of maturation that other people can see, Biro said.

Earlier breast development

Research also suggests that American girls today typically develop breasts at a younger age than in past decades. In a recent study, Biro found that black girls typically begin developing around age 8, while white, Hispanic and Asian girls start around age 9.

Among white girls in particular, that age has declined since the 1990s, Biro said. The main reason, his study found, was the rising rate of childhood obesity.

Some researchers are concerned about that trend because of studies like Mrug's, which link earlier development to certain negative effects – particularly in girls, who have been studied much more than boys.

Biro said earlier puberty in girls has been tied to earlier sexual activity, depression and problems with body image and self-esteem. "Just because you look physically more mature doesn't mean you're developing any quicker emotionally and socially," he said.

Latest findings

These latest findings are based on 2 600 girls from three US cities who were followed from the ages of 11 to 16. Overall, 16% said they'd started menstruating before age 11 and were considered "early maturers".

In general, those girls reported more acts of delinquency at ages 11, 13 and 16. The average difference, however, was not dramatic. At age 13, for example, early bloomers admitted to one delinquent act in the past couple years, versus an average of 0.5 for other girls.

Parents don't have to be worried that their daughter is destined to run wild just because she developed earlier, Mrug said.

Still, she and Biro both said it's important for parents to monitor their kids as they grow older – knowing where they are and who they are with – and they may need to start earlier with daughters who mature sooner.

Rules and boundaries

In this study, the importance of girls' friends was apparent. Regardless of when they started puberty, girls with a best friend who behaved badly – talking back to adults, lying and cheating, for example – tended to have more problem behaviour themselves.

And girls who matured early seemed to be particularly influenced by that friend, the researchers found.

But while keeping tabs on your child's friends is important, Mrug said, kids also need to feel they can talk to their parents.

They are more likely to tell you about their lives, she said, "if there is the foundation of a close, supportive relationship and a history of setting rules and boundaries."

- HealthDay

- Health24

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
George Vodongo
China to help Kenya fight high le...

China observed that if left unchecked, corruption could see the country degenerate into lawlessness. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Signs that he is seeing someone e...

When a man wants to be with you, he will always create time to be with you. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Spat between DP Ruto and Boniface...

A close associate of the DP, Hon Njogu Barua made an alarming comment on live TV Tuesday morning. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Matatu driver who drugged, robbed...

The driver of a Nissan matatu who over the weekend drugged and robbed a female passenger in Nairobi has been charged. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Heavy police contingent deployed ...

More police officers were on Monday deployed at Likoni in Mombasa County in a security operation to nab members of the ‘Wakali Kwanza’ and ‘Mtalia’ criminal gangs who have been terrorizing locals in the area. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Man released on Presidential amne...

He was caught taking money from a church offering bag at Ol Jabet Independent Pentecostal Church in Laikipia West on October 23. Read more...