Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Early Puberty Is Linked to Early Substance Use

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Early Puberty Is Linked to Early Substance Use

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- Sixth graders who showed an aggressive temperament and/or symptoms of depression were more likely than their peers to begin using alcohol and other drugs by eighth grade, according to study findings presented as a poster at the annual meeting of the Society for Adolescent Medicine.

It was the third independent risk factor researchers detected--an early onset of puberty--that was less predictable, and it might be an early red flag for physicians.

Dr. Carolyn A. McCarty and associates from the University of Washington, Seattle, departments of pediatrics and psychology recruited 521 sixth graders from public schools in the Seattle area, interviewing them every 6 months for 2.5 years, until they entered the eighth grade.

Children with conduct problems and/or depressive symptoms on a psychological instrument were oversampled in the survey.

At the study's onset, 5.4% of sixth graders were using any substance, with alcohol the most common (4.2%).

By the study's conclusion, 16.7% of the eighth grade subjects reported using alcohol (13. …

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