Pubertal Development and Ethnicity

Pubertal development varies considerably by ethnicity. For example African American girls have pubertal onset up to one year before Caucasian girls and Asians appear to mature later than Caucasians. Few studies of the psychosocial aspects of puberty have included samples of multiple ethnic groups. Studies that have compared puberty-related effects in African Americans versus Caucasians have generally observed ethnic differences. In general, the associations between pubertal status or pubertal timing and psychosocial factors are smaller in the African American samples.


It is useful to examine effects both within different ethnic groups and across groups. In examining effects of ethnicity it is also important to consider differences in Socio Economic Status (SES). A recent study reported that apparent differences in age of onset of puberty between Caucasian and Latino girls was no longer apparent after controlling for SES.

If psychological changes at puberty are ethnic-group specific, does this suggest a greater role for sociocultural factors and a lesser role for biological factors in understanding psychosocial changes at puberty? Or are there ethnic differences in the biology of puberty? There are no clear answers to these questions. Although it is unlikely that the biological basis of puberty differs greatly between ethnic groups, biological effects of puberty may be dependent on cultural context. The effects of hormones or their downstream effects may be critical in one social environment but minimal in another.

Finally, we need to understand what it is about ethnic differences that lead to findings that vary across ethnic groups. What is it about African American girls that appear to make them less vulnerable than Caucasian girls to the negative effects of early pubertal timing? Ethnicity is a construct that needs to be “unwrapped” before we will understand the meaning of the differences in the psychosocial correlates of puberty by ethnic group.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm 13 & in between 3&&4 /: I feel like I'm soo flat chested ! Cuzz my best friend has very big boobs ! & at my school a lot of girls are bigger ! I feel like I will be flat chested forever ! But I have seen some changes scince the summer .. I was like in stage 2 & in now 3 & 4 .. ?i wonder if anything will change ! Please help ! ):

Anonymous said...

I'm 11 and I'm in between stage 3 and 4 my boobs are quite a lot bigger than stage 3 and a little bit smaller than stage 4, my friends tease me and my best friend because we have bigger boobs than them ( my friends are all flat chested except for my BFF) my BFF has had her first period and I think I'm gonna be next out of my friends to get mine and they'll probs make fun of us again plzz help

Anonymous said...

Don't worry about it, everyone's different! I can assure you that when you are a couple of years older your friends will be jealous of you and your best friend as at age everyone wants bigger boobs. There is no perfect size and everyone wants what they haven't got :) as for periods, again everyone is different! I started at 14, most of my friends started at around 12-13 but one of them started at 10 and another didn't start until they were 16! If their teasing is getting to you talk to your mum or your teacher about it, they will understand what you are going through and it's not fair for people to tease you just because you are more developed then them. It could be that they are jealous and that thats the reason they are making fun of you? You'll learn to appreciate your body as you get older :) hope this helped x

Anonymous said...

Sorry I forgot to press reply, my reply to you is below this one :)

:)) ;)) ;;) :D ;) :p :(( :) :( :X =(( :-o :-/ :-* :| 8-} :)] ~x( :-t b-( :-L x( =))

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