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Dev Psychol. 2003 May;39(3):430-9.

It's about timing and change: pubertal transition effects on symptoms of major depression among African American youths.

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  • 1Department of Human and Community Development, University of California, Davis 95616, USA.


Effects of early physical maturation and accelerated pubertal changes on symptoms of major depression were examined in 639 African American children. Three rival hypotheses, early timing, off-time, and stressful change, were tested using 2 waves of data (mean ages = 11 and 13 years). The pubertal effect operates differently according to children's gender and age. For girls, early maturation was consistently associated with elevated levels of depressive symptoms. For boys, early maturers manifested elevated levels of depression only at age 11, but these symptoms subsided by age 13. Boys who experienced accelerated pubertal growth over time displayed elevated symptom levels. Results support the early timing hypothesis for girls and the stressful change hypothesis for boys. Time at assessment is critical when examining boys' pubertal transition.

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