Posts Tagged Adolescent Health

Researchers find link between childhood abuse and age at menarche

ScienceDaily (July 27, 2012) — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found an association between childhood physical and sexual abuse and age at menarche. The findings are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Researchers led by corresponding author, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at BUSM, found a 49 percent increase in risk for early onset menarche (menstrual periods prior to age 11 years) among women who reported childhood sexual abuse compared to those who were not abused. In addition, there was a 50 percent increase in risk for late onset menarche (menstrual periods after age 15 years) among women who reported severe physical abuse in childhood. The participants in the study included 68,505 women enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II, a prospective cohort study.

“In our study child abuse was associated with both accelerated and delayed age at menarche and importantly, these associations vary by type of abuse, which suggest that child abuse does not have a homogenous effect on health outcomes,” said Boynton-Jarrett. “There is a need for future research to explore characteristics of child abuse that may influence health outcomes including type, timing and severity of abuse, as well as the social context in which the abuse occurs.”

Child abuse is associated with a significant health burden over the life course. Early menarche has been associated with risks such as cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction, cancer and depression, while late menarche has been associated with lower bone mineral density and depression.

“We need to work toward better understanding how child abuse influences health and translate these research findings into clinical practice and public health strategies to improve the well-being of survivors of child abuse,” added Boynton-Jarrett.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Boston University Medical Center, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.

Journal Reference:

  1. Renée Boynton-Jarrett, Rosalind J. Wright, Frank W. Putnam, Eileen Lividoti Hibert, Karin B. Michels, Michele R. Forman, Janet Rich-Edwards. Childhood Abuse and Age at Menarche. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.006

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

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Drug Use And Antisocial Behavior Strongly Linked With Adolescent Pregnancy

Editor’s Choice
Main Category: Pregnancy / Obstetrics
Also Included In: Depression;  Mental Health;  Psychology / Psychiatry
Article Date: 25 Jul 2012 – 10:00 PDT


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Numerous studies have been conducted on the impacting factors for pregnancy outcomes in young women, yet so far, no study has established which of these factors are the most important and the impact of depression on pregnancy outcomes is particularly unclear.

Researchers from Norway’s Institute of Public Health and the Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute together with Australian researchers from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne have now discovered that the most significant risks for becoming pregnant and abortions in young adulthood are adolescent antisocial and drug use behavior.

The researchers examined the link between depressive symptoms in 14 to 18 year old adolescent girls and their pregnancy outcomes aged between 21 to 24 years as young adults.

The research included data from 988 young Australian women who participated in The Victorian Adolescent Health Cohort Study, a longitudinal study who were followed from age 14 in 1992 until today.

The team defined pregnancy outcomes as becoming pregnant, as well as completing and/or terminating a pregnancy. The researchers checked participants for depressive symptoms six times during adolescence. Pregnancy outcomes were evaluated twice during young adulthood.

The participants were also surveyed in terms of their degree of antisocial behavior, including vandalism, car damage, graffiti, fighting, theft and expulsion from school and drug use, including smoking, cannabis and alcohol during their teenage years in order to assess other possible influences on pregnancy outcomes. The researchers also took into consideration the women’s socio-economic data, including parental education and marital status and discovered an elevated risk of pregnancy in those who reported high depressive symptoms on several occasions during adolescence in comparison with those who reported no such symptoms.

However, the researchers observed that this link was eliminated when they considered the participants’ antisocial and drug use behavior, as well as socio-economic variables. They noted, in particular, that adolescent antisocial and drug use behavior had the strongest link to becoming pregnant and having an abortion in young adulthood.

Leading author, Wendy Nilsen, said:

“The findings support previous research that suggests a relationship between depression and pregnancy outcomes, but indicate that this relationship either is confounded with or can be explained by antisocial and drug use behavior.”

The research therefore demonstrates the importance of accounting for other possible causal factors in addition to the factor of initial interest.

Nilsen explains:

” The findings are useful because they underscore the relationship between antisocial and drug use behavior and pregnancy outcomes in young women. More studies are nevertheless needed before one can say anything clear about the causal relations, but the results suggest that selectively helping young people with a history of antisocial and drug use behavior may improve the future sexual and reproductive health outcomes in this group.”

The findings are also significant in relation to earlier research that was mainly based on pregnancy outcomes in teenagers, and not in young adults. Whilst in 1971, the average age of first-time mothers in most Western countries was 25 years, nowadays the term “early pregnancy” also applies to pregnancy in young adulthood with first-time mothers average age being 31 years.

The study outcome indicates that some of the same factors, such as antisocial and drug use behavior, which are linked to pregnancy outcomes in teenagers also relate to pregnancy outcomes in young adult women. The researchers suggest that the difference in the average age of first-time mothers validates further studies into pregnancy, lifestyle and mental health, and Nilsen concludes: “Further research could look at whether getting pregnant in young adulthood affects some life role transitions, such as establishing a career and/or family.”

Written by Petra Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

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