Pubertal Maturation Compression and Behavioral Impulsivity among Boys at Increased Risk for Substance Use

Addict Disord Their Treat. 2016 Jun;15(2):61-73. doi: 10.1097/ADT.0000000000000077.


Objectives: While early onset of puberty among girls has been related to substance use involvement and other adverse outcomes, less research has examined pubertal development and outcomes in boys. Further, research on puberty has not been conducted in the context of other risk factors for substance use involvement such as impulsivity. To address these gaps, this study characterized boys' pubertal development from preadolescence to mid-adolescence and related it to substance use risk and behavioral impulsivity.

Methods: A sample of 153 boys completed the Pubertal Development Scale to assess perception of their pubertal development relative to same age peers from ages 10 to 16 years, at 6-month intervals. Group-based trajectory modeling identified three distinct patterns of pubertal development: boys with more slowly developing boys with either earlier (n = 54) or later (n = 43) pubertal timing, and boys with faster tempo of pubertal development (n = 56). The groups were compared on demographic and substance use risk characteristics, as well as behavioral measures of impulsivity.

Results: Boys who had the accelerated progression through puberty had the highest proportion of family histories of substance use disorder and perform more impulsively on reward choice measures.

Conclusions: Outcomes are consistent within the Maturation Compression Hypothesis and social neuroscience models of adolescent developmental risk.

Keywords: adolescence; family history of substance use disorder; impulsivity; maturation compression; puberty.