The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Early Puberty for Girls

Recent studies in Pediatrics and Psychological Science suggest that genetics, obesity and the mother’s role can affect when puberty starts in girls. Jay Belsky, an author of the study from Birbeck University London, claims that young girls, “who fail to make a powerful early connection to their first caregiver are more likely to enter puberty early.” Earlier puberty can result in higher rates of depression, teenage pregnancy and alcohol abuse.

According to these studies, girls are hitting puberty earlier and earlier. One recent study reported by Psychological Science found that “more than 10 percent of American girls have some breast development by age 7.”  Why are girls developing sooner?  Genetics may play a role, but recent studies may suggest that the “early disconnect with mom may speed onset of puberty in girls.” Disconnect between the mother and daughter is believed to create insecurity.  

According to Psychological Science, insecure girls have their periods approximately 2 months earlier than their peers. Increased insecurity may create an uncertain, risky environment. Jay Belsky believes the home environment primes the female body to start puberty earlier. Both studies discussed above can be found at ‘Early Disconnect with Mom May Speed Onset of Puberty in Girls’.

Does this mean that working mothers are to blame? No. Although there is an increase in insecurity among children in day care, Jay Belsky states, “there is no relationship between day care and insecurity,” if the, “child’s experiences at home with the mother are secure.” 

The quality, not the quantity, of attachment time affects young girls. Based on this study, it is believed a mother who is, “unable to be sensitive and consistent in responding to her baby daughter’s cues may worsen an insecure attachment,” by spending more time with her.

What do you think? Is more research needed before we can link puberty to anything other than genetics?

- Samantha Bradbeer
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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