Associations between menarcheal timing and behavioral developmental trajectories for girls from age 6 to age 15.
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Substantial evidence from cross-sectional and short time-span longitudinal studies exists about negative associations between early pubertal maturation on a number of psychological outcomes. The objective of the present study was to assess the association between early maturation and developmental trajectories of social skills and internalizing and externalizing problems in girls from grades 1 through 9, including pre- and post-pubertal periods. The sample came from the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development and included 398 Caucasian and 60 African American girls. Multilevel modeling revealed early maturing Caucasian girls were at risk for higher internalizing and externalizing problems and experiencing higher levels of problems pre-pubertally. African American youth had lower social skills and internalizing problems with no group differences due to early pubertal development. Findings are discussed in light of literature on continuity of girls' psychosocial development before and during the pubertal transition.