Early Puberty, Divorce and Middle Class Girls

early puberty divorce middle class girls
Middle class girls with absent fathers at risk for early puberty

Just when you thought we’d heard every possible explanation for the increasing rates of early puberty in girls, researchers come up with yet another one.  In addition to high-meat diets, working moms and childhood obesity, we can now blame divorce.

But only when it happens to the parents of middle class girls.

According to research out of the University of Berkeley, California, middle class girls whose parents divorce are two and a half times more likely to start puberty early than their peers whose parents stay together.

Doctors say this is likely due to the stress brought on by the divorce.   But, interestingly, the findings did not hold true for girls from poorer households.  In lower-income families, mom and dad splitting up had no impact on the onset of puberty in their daughters.

The explanation?  Some experts say that middle class girls, who tend to be more isolated and have less support from friends and family, are more deeply affected by divorce than their less wealthy counterparts.

I find that explanation hard to believe and think it sounds completely made up.

Other explanations take into account that wealthier girls have access to more stuff.  And a lot of that stuff, including makeup and hair care products, have been found to contain hormone-disrupting chemicals.

But the bottom line remains the same:  Nobody really knows why our girls are reaching puberty so much earlier than they used to.   But as the parent of a fully developed 10-year-old, I would really like to know.

Image: geishaboy500/Flickr

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