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Acta Paediatr. 2012 Aug;101(8):868-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2012.02707.x. Epub 2012 May 16.

Subjective pubertal timing and health-compromising behaviours among Swiss adolescent girls reporting an on-time objective pubertal timing.

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Research Group for Adolescent Health, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois and University of Lausanne, Epalinges, Switzerland.



The aim of this research is to assess the associations between subjective pubertal timing (SPT) and onset of health-compromising behaviours among girls reporting an on-time objective pubertal timing (OPT).


Data were drawn from the Swiss SMASH 2002 survey, a self-administered questionnaire study conducted among a nationally representative sample of 7548 adolescents aged 16-20 years. From the 3658 girls in the initial sample, we selected only those (n = 1003) who provided information about SPT and who reported the average age at menarche, namely 13, considering this as an on-time OPT. Bivariate and logistic analyses were conducted to compare the early, on-time and late SPT groups in terms of onset of health-compromising behaviours.


A perception of pubertal precocity was associated with sexual intercourse before age 16 [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.10 (1.30-3.37)] and early use of illegal drugs other than cannabis [AOR: 2.55 (1.30-5.02)]. Conversely, girls perceiving their puberty as late were less likely to report intercourse before age 16 [AOR: 0.30 (0.12-0.75)].


Faced with an adolescent girl perceiving her puberty as early, the practitioner should investigate the existence of health-compromising behaviours even if her puberty is or was objectively on-time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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