In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Jane Mendle discuss how little girls who enter puberty very early often experience lasting and serious outcomes, such as educational underachievement, depression, substance abuse, and delinquency. The underlying causes and trajectories of these negative outcomes are discussed by Dr. Jane Mendle, Director of the Adolescent Transitions Laboratory at Cornell University.
Existing research suggests that puberty, regardless of when it occurs, is tougher for girls than it is for boys. Girls who go through puberty ahead of their peer group are at a higher risk to develop depression and anxiety, and disordered eating. Early maturing boys also show higher rates of depression. They exhibit higher rates of delinquent behaviors, earlier transition to using alcohol and smoking and other substances. Parental advice for those who have a little girl that's experiencing early puberty may or may not develop problems, but good communication with the girl and with her pediatrician is essential during puberty.
"It's easy to confuse physical maturity for cognitive or emotional maturity, but early puberty girls have the same age-appropriate maturity levels as any girl of the same age." — Dr. Jane Mendle
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