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Subjective pubertal timing and health-compromising behaviours among Swiss adolescent girls reporting an on-time objective pubertal timing.
Aim: The aim of this research is to assess the associations between subjective pubertal timing (SPT) and onset of health-compromising behaviours among girls reporting an on-time objective pubertal timing (OPT). Methods: Data were drawn from the Swiss SMASH 2002 survey, a self-administered questionnaire study conducted among a nationally representative sample of 7548 adolescents aged 16-20 years. From the 3658 girls in the initial sample, we selected only those (n = 1003) who provided information about SPT and who reported the average age at menarche, namely 13, considering this as an on-time OPT. Bivariate and logistic analyses were conducted to compare the early, on-time and late SPT groups in terms of onset of health-compromising behaviours. Results: A perception of pubertal precocity was associated with sexual intercourse before age 16 [adjusted odds ratio (AOR): 2.10 (1.30-3.37)] and early use of illegal drugs other than cannabis [AOR: 2.55 (1.30-5.02)]. Conversely, girls perceiving their puberty as late were less likely to report intercourse before age 16 [AOR: 0.30 (0.12-0.75)]. Conclusion: Faced with an adolescent girl perceiving her puberty as early, the practitioner should investigate the existence of health-compromising behaviours even if her puberty is or was objectively on-time.
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