Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth J. Susman’

Early — Or Late — Puberty May Ramp Up Aggression in Boys

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Editor’s note:‘s Melanie Davis, of the “Buzz on the Birds and the Bees,” and I (I write the “Boo-Boos, Germs & Pap Smears” column) are teaming up to tackle the news about this study on how earlier or later puberty can trigger aggression in boys.

Is your son way ahead of his friends when it comes to his voice getting deeper, his pants getting shorter and his face showing a bit of stubble?

Or is he at the other end of the spectrum — feeling left behind and wondering when he’ll hit puberty like many of his friends already have?

Puberty that arrives earlier or later in boys, compared with their buddies, can trigger chemicals related to antisocial behavior, say Penn State researchers. They add that their findings have important implications for parents with aggressive boys.

“Aggressive behavior can begin very early, even in pre-school, and might be related to poor impulse control, difficulties in the family or just overall general problem behavior,” says Elizabeth J. Susman, a professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. “We wanted to find out if earlier or later timing of puberty in adolescents has any biological factors related to it.”

She and her colleagues looked at how the timing of puberty affects cortisol (a stress hormone) and salivary alpha amylase (an enzyme in saliva used as an indicator of stress). Their findings appear in the May issue of the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. (OK, that’s a mouthful.)