Associations Between Early Life Stress, Child Maltreatment, and Pubertal Development Among Girls in Foster Care

J Res Adolesc. 2011 Dec 1;21(4):871-880. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2011.00746.x.


The present study investigated pubertal development in girls with maltreatment histories (N = 100), assessed at four time points over 2 years beginning in the spring of their final year of elementary school. This sample is unique, in that participants were subject to an unusual level of environmental risk early in life and resided in foster care at the start of the study. Analyses replicated the previously established association between sexual abuse and earlier onset of maturation and earlier age at menarche. Physical abuse was related to a more rapid tempo of pubertal development across the period assessed. These results strengthen previous investigations of childhood maltreatment and puberty, highlighting the complexity and specificity of early life experiences for later development.