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Early Puberty in Girls May Be Risk Factor for Physical, Sexual Abuse

MONDAY, May 8, 2017 -- Girls with early pubertal development may be more vulnerable to abuse from a boyfriend, according to research published online May 8 in Pediatrics.

The findings are based on an analysis of 3,870 U.S. girls aged 13 to 17. The girls were considered to be maturing early if they got their first menstrual period sooner than the norm among their peers of the same age and race, or described themselves as being more physically developed than their peers.

The researchers found that, overall, 30 percent of the study group said they'd experienced some kind of physical or verbal dating abuse. That included being pushed or shoved, threatened with violence, "sworn at," or insulted in public. These girls also had a somewhat higher risk of dating abuse -- particularly if boys accounted for at least 29 percent of their "friendship group."

"Early pubertal development is a risk marker for adolescent dating abuse victimization, particularly when a higher percentage of girls' friends are boys," the authors write. "Pediatricians and adolescent health specialists should be sensitive to the elevated risk for adolescent dating abuse victimization in early-maturing girls."

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Posted: May 2017