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Study: Hormones, perceived physical changes during puberty differ over sociodemographics

May 3, 2021
Study: Hormones, perceived physical changes during puberty differ over sociodemographics
Kristina Uban, assistant professor of public health, is a lead author on the study, published in Frontiers in Endocrinology.

Sociodemographic characteristics such as sex, education, ethnicity, race and income are associated with both salivary hormone levels and self-reported physical changes related to puberty, according to a recent study published in the online journal Frontiers in Endocrinology. Lead author Kristina Uban, UCI assistant professor of public health; co-lead author Megan Herting of USC; and other researchers evaluated a sample of 11,880 children participating in the U.S. Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, which enrolled 9- to 10-year-olds to capture the transition from childhood to early adulthood. Results showed that perceived physical features and hormones were significantly linked to the child’s weight and income, with more mature scores observed among children who were overweight or from low-income households. The team concluded that differences in both physical and hormonal markers highlight a complex relationship among race, ethnic background and socioeconomic status in the early stages of puberty. “Megan and I hope this study draws attention to how little we understand the complexity of pubertal maturation in humans – a biological process that all adults go through and a period of transition holding great predictive potential for understanding a range of health outcomes in adolescence and adulthood,” Uban says. Scholars and scientists from across the country at universities, research institutes and government agencies also participated in the study.