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Archivos argentinos de pediatría

Print version ISSN 0325-0075On-line version ISSN 1668-3501


LEJARRAGA, Horacio et al. A non invasive method for assessing sexual development at adolescence. Arch. argent. pediatr. [online]. 2009, vol.107, n.5, pp.423-429. ISSN 0325-0075.

Introduction. Observational assessments of puberty that invades the adolescent´s privacy are not acceptable for research in population groups. Results based on self assessment have been variable, and in many cases poor. Objectives. To evaluate the validity of a questionnaire with simple questions addressed to assess early, intermediate and advanced puberty periods rather than specific stages. Material and methods. In an outpatient clinic at the Service of Adolescence of a public hospital, 188 and 142 healthy girls and boys aged 8-18 years, and 36 girls and boys aged 8-9 years attending a public school were studied. Adolescents attended the Service for the first time. Those with chronic diseases were excluded from the study. Children answered the questionnaire before entering the doctor´s office, where a trained professional clinically assessed their puberal development (Tanner´s stage). The questionnaire was previously tested in 30 adolescents. Results. The highest concordance were found in the questions: "Have you started puberty?", with Tanner ´s stages III, IV or V (Kappa value= 0.60); "Have you already had your first menstrual period?" with stages IV-V (K= 0.69); and "Do you shave?" with stages IV-V (K= 0.66). In most cases, these questions showed high (≥ 0.80) sensitivity and specificity for detecting the mentioned puberty periods. Conclusions. The method showed to be reliable, and its further evaluation in a non medical setting (schools, households, etc.) is recommended.

Keywords : Puberty; Adolescence; Questionnaire on puberal development.

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