Aim: To examine individual variability between perceived physical features and hormones of pubertal maturation in 9-10-year-old children as a function of sociodemographic characteristics.
Methods: Cross-sectional metrics of puberty were utilized from the baseline assessment of the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study-a multi-site sample of 9-10 year-olds (n = 11,875)-and included perceived physical features via the pubertal development scale (PDS) and child salivary hormone levels (dehydroepiandrosterone and testosterone in all, and estradiol in females). Multi-level models examined the relationships among sociodemographic measures, physical features, and hormone levels. A group factor analysis (GFA) was implemented to extract latent variables of pubertal maturation that integrated both measures of perceived physical features and hormone levels.
Results: PDS summary scores indicated more males (70%) than females (31%) were prepubertal. Perceived physical features and hormone levels were significantly associated with child’s weight status and income, such that more mature scores were observed among children that were overweight/obese or from households with low-income. Results from the GFA identified two latent factors that described individual differences in pubertal maturation among both females and males, with factor 1 driven by higher hormone levels, and factor 2 driven by perceived physical maturation. The correspondence between latent factor 1 scores (hormones) and latent factor 2 scores (perceived physical maturation) revealed synchronous and asynchronous relationships between hormones and concomitant physical features in this large young adolescent sample.
Conclusions: Sociodemographic measures were associated with both objective hormone and self-report physical measures of pubertal maturation in a large, diverse sample of 9-10 year-olds. The latent variables of pubertal maturation described a complex interplay between perceived physical changes and hormone levels that hallmark sexual maturation, which future studies can examine in relation to trajectories of brain maturation, risk/resilience to substance use, and other mental health outcomes.