Girls, Early Adversity and Maturation Study

Former William T. Grant Scholar Renee Boynton-Jarrett will use this award to continue collecting and analyzing data on the impact of social environments and stressors on growth and pubertal timing in girls.

Early puberty is associated with significant health and social consequences. In addition, African-American girls are at higher risk for early puberty. In general, the major determinants of early puberty remain poorly understood, but there is some research that suggests an association between childhood adversities and pubertal timing. The longitudinal study will analyze biomarker data (hair samples, cortisol collection) from 200 African-American mother-daughter dyads. That data will be integrated and analyzed with survey data on trauma history, exposure to violence, child abuse and neglect, and neighborhood-level stressors. The investigators hypothesize that psychosocial stress during critical developmental periods contributes to early puberty, and that differences in levels of environmental stress may partially explain racial/ethnic disparities in risk for early puberty. The strength of these relationships may be further understood by considering genetic predictors of maturation. This work has the potential to demonstrate how the transmission of social stress across generations impacts health outcomes related to puberty. In addition, the award allows a promising young scholar to continue her professional growth in collecting biomarker data and examining gene and environment interactions.

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