Girls from low-income families feel unprepared for puberty: Study

| Updated: Aug 23, 2017 11:20 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan. 5 (ANI): A new study reveals that girls from low-income families are unprepared for puberty and have largely negative experiences of this transition. The findings were published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health. The findings indicated that the girls living mostly in urban areas of the Northeastern U.S. showed that the majority of low-income girls feel they lack the information and readiness to cope with the onset of menstruation. "Puberty is the cornerstone of reproductive development," said Marni Sommer associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at the Mailman School of Public Health in the US. "Therefore, the transition through puberty is a critical period of development that provides an important opportunity to build a healthy foundation for sexual and reproductive health. Given the importance of this transition, the research is striking in its lack of quantity and quality to date," Sommer added. The investigators used Qualitative Research guidelines to review the data from peer-reviewed articles with a qualitative study design published between 2000 and 2014. The research reviews the literature on puberty experiences of low-income girls. The study showed that the age of breast development and menarche has declined steadily in the U.S. during the last 25 years, with 48 percent of African-American girls experiencing signs of physical development by age eight. "This trend may mean that increasing numbers of African-American girls are not receiving adequately timed puberty education - leaving them uninformed and ill-prepared for this transition," said another researcher Ann Herbert from the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Although many of the girls reported being exposed to puberty topics from at least one source--mothers, sisters, or teachers--most felt that the information was inaccurate, insufficient, or provided too late. Girls also reported being disappointed in the information they received from mothers; meanwhile many mothers said they were unable to fully address their daughters' needs. "Our review makes it clear that there is a need for new more robust interventions to support and provide information about puberty for low-income girls, something we are considering for the coming years," Sommer stated. (ANI)