Early Puberty Raises Risk of Depression for Girls
A study published in the journal Pediatrics that looked at more than 8,300 children born in Hong Kong in 1997 "found [that] girls who had earlier breast development had a higher risk of depressive symptoms, or more depressive symptoms," according to Dr. C. Mary Schooling, a professor at the City University of New York School of Public Health and senior author on the study, quoted in the New York Times. "We didn’t see the same thing for boys."
And notably, early onset of breast development in girls was associated with a higher risk of depression in early adolescence even after other factors, including socioeconomic status, weight, or parents' marital status, were taken into account. The Hong Kong study reinforces similar findings in earlier studies, including some conducted in the United States.
"When kids navigate puberty they start to look different," said Dr. Jane Mendle, a clinical psychologist in the department of human development at Cornell University, also quoted in the Times. "It can be hard for them to maintain friendships with kids who haven't developed, and we also know that early maturing girls are more likely to be harassed and victimized by other kids in their grade."