(HealthDay News) — Girls with menarche at earlier ages may be at elevated risk for mental health issues in adolescence that carry into adult years, according to a study published online Dec. 26 in Pediatrics.

Jane Mendle, PhD, from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, and colleagues used data from a nationally representative sample of 7,802 women prospectively collected over a 14-year period starting in adolescence to examine associations of age at menarche with depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors in adulthood.

The researchers found that earlier ages at menarche were associated with higher rates of both depressive symptoms and antisocial behaviors in early to middle adulthood. This association largely resulted from difficulties that started in adolescence and did not lessen over time. 

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“These findings indicate that the emotional sequelae of puberty extend further than documented in previous research, and suggest that earlier development may place girls on a life path from which it may be difficult to deviate,” the authors write.

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