Absent fathers hasten menstruation

September 4th, 2008 - 1:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Sep 4 (IANS) The absence of a father early in life can literally alter the age at which girls get their first period, according to the latest research. University of Auckland Jacqueline Tither’s study compared 68 pairs of sisters from father-absent homes with 93 pairs of sisters from father-present homes in New Zealand.

The sisters in each pair were full biological siblings who were at least two years apart in age, and in the father-absent families, the biological parents had split prior to the younger sister getting her first period.

“Specifically, this study found that younger sisters in father-absent homes had significantly earlier menarche than their older sisters. This was not the case in father-present families,” she said.

The study, which will appear in the Developmental Psychology Journal, revealed that it was the younger daughters of the most dysfunctional fathers who were most likely to experience the earliest pubertal timing.

Specifically, younger sisters with the most dysfunctional absent fathers got their first period 11 months earlier than either their older sisters or other younger sisters from father-absent families who were not exposed to serious paternal dysfunction. Tither said psychosocial stress is one possible explanation for this finding.

“Given that early pubertal maturation in girls is associated with a variety of negative health and psychosocial outcomes - such as mood disorders, substance abuse, adolescent pregnancy, and a variety of cancers of the reproductive system - it is important that risk factors for early puberty are identified,” she said.

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