Contextual amplification or attenuation of pubertal timing effects on depressive symptoms among Mexican American girls

Rebecca White, Julianna Deardorff, Nancy Gonzales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the role of neighborhood contextual variation in the putative association between pubertal timing and depressive symptoms among Mexican-origin girls. Method: Mexican-origin girls (N = 344; x age = 10.8 years) self-reported their total pubertal, adrenal, and gonadal events, along with levels of depressive symptoms in the 5th grade. Girls' residential addresses were geocoded into neighborhoods, and census data were obtained to describe neighborhoods along two dimensions: Hispanic cultural context and socioeconomic disadvantage. Two years later, when most of the girls were in the 7th grade, we reassessed the girls regarding depressive symptoms. Results: Neighborhood Hispanic composition and neighborhood disadvantage were highly positively correlated. Using hierarchical linear modeling, we examined the moderating influence of neighborhood Hispanic composition and neighborhood disadvantage on the prospective associations between pubertal timing (total, gonadal, and adrenal) and depressive symptoms. Neighborhood Hispanic composition moderated the prospective association between total pubertal and gonadal timing and depressive symptoms. Neighborhood disadvantage did not moderate these associations. Conclusions: Our results suggest that early maturing 5th grade Mexican-origin girls living in non-Hispanic neighborhoods are at the greatest risk for increased depressive symptoms in the 7th grade, even though these neighborhoods tend to be socioeconomically more advantaged. The protective cultural context of largely Hispanic neighborhoods may outweigh the potential amplifying effects of neighborhood disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-571
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Effect modifiers
  • Mexican Americans
  • Neighborhood
  • Puberty

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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