The following is from an article in the (Canadian) Report Newsmagazine, Daddy's girl matures later — Stepfathers are shown to produce 'precocious puberty' in young females, by Candis McLean, 2001 04 16, p. 46

ONE in six girls in Britain now enters puberty by eight years of age, according to recent research. This compares with one in 100 a generation ago. "Girls are now having sex before their great-great-grandmothers had their first period. Half of all girls in Britain will have entered puberty by the age of 10," announced Professor Jane Golding, director of the study at Bristol University's Institute of Child Health last June after tracking the development of 14,000 children from birth. In North America, one in seven Caucasian girls and half of African-American girls enter puberty (develop breasts or pubic hair) by the age of eight. The parade of suggested triggers has included obesity, pollution and food additives (see this magazine, Nov. 16, 1998). New research, however, suggests a radical new theory--that the father-daughter relationship is also a very important factor in when girls mature.

One of the leaders in this research, American Bruce Ellis, is a psychology professor at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand. ...

According to Prof. Ellis' research,

"The clearest finding to emerge from this research was that it was the absence of warm, positive family relationships, rather than the presence of negative, coercive family relationships, that forecast earlier pubertal development in girls." But, while warm relations with both parents predicted later puberty, the more relevant was "father-daughter affectionate-positivity"; in fact, the more time spent by the father in childcare when the daughters were four to five years old, the less pubertal development by Grade 7. ...

Prof. Ellis does not think that pheremone exposure within the home is the only factor at work. He continues, "It is also likely that girls who have high-investing fathers in the home tend to begin sex and dating at a later age and thus have less pheromonal exposure to male dating partners in early adolescence." He concludes his article (to be published in a book [whose title is] Just living together: Implications of cohabitation for children, families, and social policy) with the statement that the inherent instability of cohabiting unions--an average duration of about two years--means any children will be three times as likely to live with a biologically unrelated parent which could result in earlier onset of puberty. In girls, this is associated with negative health and psychosocial outcomes: greater risk of breast cancer in later life, unhealthy weight gain, higher rates of teenage pregnancy, low birthweight babies, emotional problems such as depression and anxiety, and problem behaviours such as alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity. [My emphasis —WHS]

The Report article recommends to parents that to be successful in,

Preserving childhood

  • Stay married

  • Keep stress levels down; do not overbook children's activities

  • Prevent obesity

  • Provide a high-fibre diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables

  • Cut out fast food

  • Keep your daughter active; get her interested in a sport or out playing with other kids

  • Throw out the TV

  • Send early-developing girls to same-sex or age-segregated schools to reduce exposure to older boys