A new University of Texas at Austin study reveals that teens for whom puberty begins early and who have rapid pubertal development are at greater risk for experimenting with cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana.
The study, "Perceived Pubertal Timing and Recent Substance Use Among Adolescents: A Longitudinal Perspective," was conducted by public health researcher Jessica Duncan Cance and colleagues from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It was published in the October issue of the journal Addiction.
The study examined how an adolescent's perceived physical pubertal development (early, on-time or late compared with peers of the same age) is associated with the use of cigarettes, alcohol or marijuana. The study included almost 6,500 male and female 11- to 17-year-olds of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds who were surveyed about their substance use during the prior three months.
The study's findings suggest that early puberty prompts or exacerbates existing psychological and social aspects that can lead to substance use and other risky behaviors.