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Early puberty onset in females predicts depression, antisocial behaviours in adulthood

13 Jan 2018

Early onset of puberty in young females results in higher rates of antisocial behaviour and depression, which persist into adulthood, a recent study has found.

The study included 7,802 females who were assessed for depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviours using self-reported questionnaires administered over five follow-up waves. Ordinary least-squares regression models were used to determine the relationship between the mental health symptoms and age at menarche.

According to the proximal influences model, early puberty onset was significantly and linearly predictive of depressive symptoms. That is, later ages of menarche were significantly correlated with lower symptom levels (p<0.05).

The researchers also found a borderline significant quadratic association between the two variables (p=0.09), indicating that earlier menarche may have compounding effects on later depressive symptoms.

Notably, the lingering influences model showed that earlier age of menarche was significantly associated with depressive symptoms both linearly (p<0.05) and quadratically (p<0.05) at the final follow-up. This suggests that young women who mature earlier are significantly more prone to depressive symptoms later in adulthood.

The trends were similar for antisocial behaviours. The proximal influences model revealed a significant and linear association between early maturation and the frequency of antisocial behaviour (p<0.05).

This relationship remained significant longitudinally (p<0.05) and even after controlling for adolescent levels of antisocial behaviours.

“The current research suggests that the sequelae of earlier development are not transient growing pains but are predictive of difficulties and challenges that persist into adulthood,” the researchers said.

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