202598 Pubertal development in African American Girls: The Family's Perspective

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rosenie Thelus Jean, MPH , Epidemiology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Michele R. Forman, PhD , Epidemiology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
African American (AA) girls begin puberty earlier than their non-Hispanic white peers and are more likely to hold negative attitudes towards menstruation. Few studies have explored the potential implications surrounding these issues from the family's perspective. Therefore, we conducted separate focus groups for fathers, mothers and daughters aged 6 to 12 years (n= 36) to explore perceptions of body image, communications, pubertal development and sources of puberty-related information in African American participants. Using a grounded theory design, the core theme that emerged across the parent's groups was the distinction between their daughters (AA) and girls of other ethnic group. Specifically, parents highlighted differences related to growth and development, relevance of existing pubertal information to their daughters as well as differential perception of body image and body shape. In general, mothers recalled their experience with puberty as negative as did their daughters who had already started their menses. Although mothers and schools were the primary sources for information about puberty, both mothers and daughters valued friendship with other girls of their age as an important factor in learning more about pubertal development. Given the earlier age at maturation in African American girls, future public health intervention should focus on promoting peer education about puberty among girls. Furthermore, a greater emphasis should be placed on increasing access to relevant health information for parents regarding their daughters' growth and development.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss parental perceptions of their daughter's pubertal development, body image and communication dynamics. 2. Evaluate girls' perceptions of their body image and pubertal development 3. Compare mother's pubertal experience to daughter's perceived pubertal experience. 4. Describe father's role and involvement in daughters' growth and development. 5. Discuss implications surrounding parental perceptions of daughter's pubertal development.

Keywords: Adolescents, African American

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This is my area of interest and I partipated in the planning, data collection, analysis and synthesis of this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.