A Longitudinal Assessment of Early Pubertal Timing as a Predictor of Psychosocial Changes in Adolescent Girls With and Without Spina Bifida


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Abstract

Objective A longitudinal comparison of adolescent girls with and without spina bifida (SB), regarding the effects of early pubertal timing on girls’ depressive symptoms, mother–daughter conflict, and emotional distancing. Methods 62 mother–daughter dyads (31 with SB and 31 without) reported on psychosocial outcomes at 5 time points (ages 8/9 to 16/17 years). Results A pubertal timing × SB status interaction predicted emotional distancing (T2), conflict (T2, T5), and depressive symptoms (T4), such that early maturing girls without SB reported the greatest increase in each outcome. Main effects of pubertal timing predicted emotional distancing (T4), conflict (T4), and depressive symptoms (T2, T3, T5). Findings were not always consistent across reporters, assessments of pubertal timing, and time-points. Conclusions Although early maturing girls in both groups may experience greater psychosocial difficulties, early maturing girls without SB may be most at-risk. The somewhat reduced impact of early pubertal timing in girls with SB is discussed.

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