Stories about: Diane Stafford

Does early maturity make for a mean girl?

Many parents of pubescent and pre-pubescent girls encounter troubling behaviors among their daughters between the ages of 10 and 13. The apple of your eye may begin to talk back to you, choose questionable friends or dabble in mean girl behavior. It is worrisome. But a study published in the January issue of Pediatrics that linked early puberty in girls with relationships with more deviant peers, susceptibility to negative peer pressure and higher levels of delinquent and aggressive behaviors may sound an unnecessary alarm.

Previous studies have suggested a link between early puberty and behavioral and emotional problems in girls, but the researchers’ recommendations—specifically limiting association with deviant peers for early maturing girls—should apply to all adolescents, says Diane Stafford, MD, attending physician in endocrinology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

This recent study in Pediatrics of 2,607 girls and their parents focused on interviews at ages 11, 13 and 16 years. Girls and their parents were questioned about age of menarche (first period), best friend’s deviant behaviors like alcohol or drug use, delinquency and aggression.

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