According to latest studies, scientists have found a correlation between early puberty and changes in behavior such irritability, depression and anxiety. The study was carried out by scientists of University of California and Duke University. Researchers have also pointed out a very important aspect of puberty – tempo. This refers to the pace at which a girl or boy grows through the puberty period. Changes in behavior have been attributed to two important factors – timing of puberty and the tempo of growth during this period. Scientists are now wondering if early puberty can have a profound effect on the later stages of a woman’s health, especially with regard to cancers of the reproductive system.
Early puberty has negative consequences on the emotional and psychological health of both boys and girls. Tempo has a lot of influence on health and the lead author of the study, Kristine Marceau suggests that elders need to monitor the tempo of puberty in order to understand the exact repercussions. For the study, an innovative methodology based on a statistical approach was adopted in order to study the comprehensive ramifications of tempo and timing of puberty on behavior changes in children. Problems that children face during adolescence are on a rapid increase and early puberty coupled with a faster tempo is the suggested reasons.
For the study, 373 girls and 364 boys were considered. The study was taken up as a part of studies for the Child Health and Human Development’s Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development. The study was initially aimed at understanding the effect of variations in climate of children’s health. The team leader of the study was Elizabeth Susman, who is a Jean Phillips Shibley professor of Behavioral Health in Penn State. The data collected of the study group of children consisted of information such as growth and development of pubic hair, genitalia, breasts, besides other parameters such as height and weight. Parents and guardians were questioned about behavior changes in children following the puberty stage.
According to results of the study, girls who attained puberty early went through a lot of behavior changes. Problems were found to be more pronounced when the tempo of growth during this stage was higher. Interestingly, it was found that the timing and tempo of growth in girls were unrelated. In boys, however, tempo and timing were found to be very intrinsically related aspects.
Authors said that the reason could be that when the tempo is higher, children do not get enough time to be acclimatized with the major hormonal changes in the body and hence, cannot handle the emotional turmoil, leading to depression, anxiety and irritability problems.