I don't care where you live, how much money you make, or what color your skin is, if you are a parent, there is one thing that more than likely terrifies or has terrified you at some point in your child's development: puberty.  Despite the fact that we've all been through it, it still remains shrouded in mystery and more than a little scary when our kids go through it. Still, we know that all of those mood swings, growth spurts, and pimples are an important in our child's development.  But a new study has found that just when and how fast puberty develops may be an indicator of a child's behavior and/or mood problems later in life.  

The study, which was a joint effort between researchers at Penn State University, Duke University and University of California, Davis, followed 364 boys and 373 girls for six years throughout their pubescent phase.  They found that girls who experienced puberty earlier than their peers and and whose puberty progressed more quickly than their peers also had more symptoms of depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal.  A faster progression of puberty was also linked to less than desirable behaviors, such as lying and cheating.  Boys who started puberty earlier than their peers and progressed through puberty faster than normal experienced the most problems - particularly behavioral problems.

In general, puberty tends to start some time between age 8 and 13 in girls and 10 and 15 in guys and lasts for about 2 to 2 ½ years.

Lead author Kristine Marceau, of Penn State commented, "The thought is that when the major changes of puberty are compressed into a shorter amount of time, adolescents don't have enough time to acclimate, so they're not emotionally or socially ready for all the changes that happen." 

The study was published in the September issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

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