Maternal Depression May Correlate With Daughter's Earlier Puberty
WebMD News Archive
Both Joffe and Licht say that the one aspect of the study that may have
relevance is the issue of maternal depression. While Ellis himself says that
this study is simply observational and no clinical conclusions can be drawn,
Joffe and Licht think that the issue of a mother's or any family member's
depression having an effect on family dysfunction can be a real message.
"One shouldn't take home the message that depression in and of itself is
going to cause huge disruption of this sort in their daughter, but I think that
ideally the extent to which the child can be kept involved with the mother
during her depression is important," Licht says. A therapist could act as a
mediator to help the mother and daughter maintain a functional
"Depression can be as severe an emotional withdrawal as physical death
can be, and it can have its impact on the child," he says.
And whether maternal depression can cause early onset of puberty will remain
debatable, Joffe says, but "the fact that depression has effects on other
family members is really important ... so it's a real argument for identifying
[depression] and getting treatment."
Ellis says that the study's findings are not clinically applicable.
"Until the findings have been replicated on other samples, it would not be
advisable to use these data as a basis for clinical decisions," he
- New research has shown that a mother's mood disorder or new relationship
following a divorce is associated with an earlier onset of puberty among
- One expert cautions that some other factor could be causing early puberty
in these girls.
- Researchers hypothesize that the introduction of a new stepfather or
boyfriend of the mother exposes the child to pheromones, and this could
influence earlier onset of puberty.