We’re always on the hunt to uncover information and research that will help educate young women. This past week, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported the results of research conducted by the University of Bristol and Cambridge (United Kingdom) concluding that “Girls who begin menstruating at an early age are at greater risk of depressive symptoms during their adolescence.”
This type of research typically throws parents into a tailspin–especially parents of pre-menstrual young women. A significant level of weariness surrounding conversations about puberty already exists, and courtesy of this study, a new worry has been added to the mix.
What we gained from this research is that it takes more than one study to verify the accuracy of a claim. But, what we took away from the media hype around the results were,that early preparation for puberty and maturity can have lasting and hopefully, positive and profound impact.
While we’re not in a position to support or deny the validity of this research (not having medical or research degrees), we do agree with the premise that additional support for our young daughters can be of benefit. The support need not exclusively come in the form of structured or medical support programs, rather, more open dialogue between parents and their children–at earlier ages. We champion the theory that major life milestones should be celebrated. How they are celebrated depends on a family’s culture, social circle and comfort level. More importantly, we promote open communication, early presentation of critical information on puberty, and as a part of our mission, encourage all parents to confidently and positively address life milestones in a celebratory manner. The onset of menses is one of those milestones.
Conclusion: We concur with this research in that it suggests preparedness at earlier ages and support for our daughters at a very critical juncture in their lives–the onset of menses.
A summary of the press announcement is below:
Research examined the link between the onset of menses and depressive symptoms in a sample of more than 2,100 girls who took part in a long-term study known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).The mean age at which the girls in the study group started menstruating was 12 years and 6 months. They found that girls who started their periods early (before the age of 11.5 years) had the highest levels of depressive symptoms at ages 13 and 14. Girls who started their periods later (after the age of 13.5 years) had the lowest levels of depressive symptoms.”
Lead researcher Dr Carol Joinson, Lecturer in the School of Social and Community Medicine at Bristol University, said: “ The transition into puberty is a critical developmental period, associated with many biological, cognitive and social changes. These can include increased conflict with parents, the development of romantic relationships, changes in body image and fluctuating hormone levels. These changes may have a more negative impact on girls who mature at an early age than those who mature later. Early maturing girls may feel isolated, and faced with demands which they are not emotionally prepared for.”
Full Press Release: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2011/7403.html