Puberty Age depends on which parent passes on that gene | Study

Amidst much Talk of age of Puberty for juvenile delinquents. A study sheds some light on Puberty age for Girls.

From the past one month, one issue is being debated on Indian news channels — the age of puberty of juvenile delinquents. The country is discussing as to how those minors involved in crimes like rape, sexual assault should be treated. Should they be treated as adults, considering the nature of their crime, or they be treated as minor, as the chronological age points so. In contrast to the previous Government, which decided to continue with the chronological age as the benchmark for adulthood, the new Government wants to set the age of puberty as the benchmark for those juvenile delinquents convicted for sex crimes.  If said in simple words, the new Government is of the opinion that if a minor acts like an adult, he must be treated as one. The debate is still no, although there is a unanimity among Indians that age of puberty is different for different children. The debate is important as the time is changing.

Amidst this debate, a new study conducted by University of Cambridge , published a couple of days ago in the journal Nature, sheds some light on the Age of puberty of Girls. And the study specifically says that the age at which girls reach sexual maturity is influenced by genes. 

According to the study and we quote,

The age at which girls reach sexual maturity is influenced by ‘imprinted’ genes, a small sub-set of genes whose activity differs depending on which parent passes on that gene,…

The research says that the age of sexual maturity depends on who of the two parents passes on the imprinted genes. Imprinted genes are genes whose expression is determined by the parent that contributed them. Imprinted genes violate the usual rule of inheritance that both alleles in a heterozygote (where there are two different traits or alleles in the pair ) are equally expressed. Imprinted genes are known to play a role before the birth of the child. The research extends their role to post birth as well.

This also points to a particular situation when it comes to Age of puberty of Sexual maturity in Girls. Our physical appearance takes nearly equal genes from the father and the mother. But, when it comes to age of puberty or sexual maturity , the  imprinted genes place unequal weight on the influence of either the mother’s or the father’s genes. That’s one parent plays the dominant role. The research for that , — “in a family, one parent may more profoundly affect puberty timing in their daughters than the other parent.”

The findings come from an international study of more than 180,000 women involving scientists from 166 institutions worldwide, including the University of Cambridge. The researchers identified 123 genetic variations that were associated with the timing of when girls experienced their first menstrual cycle by analysing the DNA of 182,416 women of European descent from 57 studies. Six of these variants were found to be clustered within imprinted regions of the genome.

The Research further says that,

“The activity of imprinted genes differs depending on which parent the gene is inherited from. Some genes are only active when inherited from the mother, others are only active when inherited from the father. Both types of imprinted genes were identified as determining puberty timing in girls, indicating a possible biological conflict between the parents over their child’s rate of development. Further evidence for the parental imbalance in inheritance patterns was obtained by analysing the association between these imprinted genes and timing of puberty in a study of over 35,000 women in Iceland, for whom detailed information on their family trees were available.”

Thus during the study the Researchers are able to find the dominant genes in the age of puberty for the child. Puberty timing varies from 8 to 13 years.

Concluding the write-up on the question of puberty in India, one can say that the issue is not simple. But the very question whether a minor who acts like an adult, be treated as one is important. And one thing can be said for sure, when a minor convicted in a sex offence is treated like a major, then we are not punishing a minor, we are actually punishing the criminal tendencies in him.