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Girls' early puberty linked to unstable environment via insecure attachment in infancy
Date:8/31/2010

her following the separation or could not be comforted by her return were considered insecure. Pubertal development was evaluated by means of annual physical exams administered by nurses or physicians starting when girls were 9.5 years of age. Results revealed, as predicted, that girls who were insecure as babies started their pubertal development soonerby about two to four monthsthan girls who were secure as babies. They also completed pubertal development sooner and had their first period earlier than girls who were secure as infants.

A risky, unstable early environment, as reflected in an insecure attachment, is not the only reason girls mature early; it's also partly due to genetics. Environmental chemicals may also have some effect. Also, there's been a trend over the last 150 years of girls maturing earlier, possibly because of improved nutrition. But the early rearing environment and the infant-mother attachment relationship are important influences and should not be ignored, says Belsky. He cowrote the study with Renate Houts of Duke University and Pasco Fearon of the University of Reading.

"An evolutionary biology perspective says, 'look, the thing that nature most cares aboutwith respect to all living things, humans includedis dispersing genes in future generations,'" says Belsky. "Thus, under those conditions in which the future appears precarious, where I might not even survive long enough to breed tomorrow, then I should mature earlier so I can mate earlier before that precarious future might get me." This is the evolutionary logic, according to Belsky, which led to the predictionand now evidencethat early insecurity should be related to earlier pubertal development.


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Contact: Keri Chiodo
kchiodo@psychologicalscience.org
202-293-9300
Association for Psychological Science
Source:Eurekalert

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