Early Puberty Increases Risk of Depression in Adulthood
According to the study, the hormonal upheaval arising from exposure to estrogens at an early age could explain the higher risk of depression in young women.
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Girls who start their periods early have an increased risk of depression and behavioural problems before the age of 30, reports an American study published in the journal Pediatrics.
In a study of 7,802 women from puberty to around the age of 30, three American researchers noted that those who started their periods at age 12 or younger had a greater risk of depression and antisocial behavior more than ten years after adolescence.
The study analysed a group of women who had their first period on average at the age of 12, with 19 percent at the age of 11, seven percent at age ten, and one percent at age seven.
While not positing a direct link between early puberty and the emergence of depression or antisocial behavior in teenagers, the researchers suggested that early puberty is one of several risk factors for depression and should be taken into account.
Ellen Selkie, a psychologist for teenagers who wrote an accompanying commentary, advises that if a child develops earlier than others, it is important that parents pay attention to her feelings and behavior to prevent problems emerging later on.
The researchers suggest the hormonal upheaval arising from exposure to estrogens at an early age could explain the higher risk of depression in young women. They also linked early physical changes and the feeling of being different that some girls experience with the psychological fragility accompanying puberty.
More generally, early puberty, which has many causes and is increasingly common, is thought to be linked to the development of certain diseases in adulthood, including gestational diabetes. Endocrine disruptors (such as pesticides, phthalates, and bisphenol A) are suspected of being involved in a number of conditions such as obesity, diabetes and early puberty.
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