Early-maturing girls whose parents gave them free rein at age 13 showed a “dramatic increase in alcohol abuse” over the next four years compared to early-maturing peers who were supervised more closely, Dr. Brett Laursen of Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale and colleagues found.
And over time, the more often these girls abused alcohol, the less closely their parents supervised them, according to research published in Pediatrics.
The researchers followed 957 girls from a small town in central Sweden over a four-year period, starting when the girls were 12 to 14 years old. Roughly 20% of the girls had their first period before age 12 (“early maturing”), about 60% first menstruated at age 12 or 13 (“on-time”), while the remaining 20% had their first period after age 13 (“late-maturing”).
Alcohol abuse rose in all three groups as the girls got older. But among the on-time and late-maturing groups, levels of autonomy granted by parents (based on the girls’ own perception) weren’t associated with rates of alcohol abuse.