Concerns regarding change in the onset and tempo of pubertal growth in ethnic Chinese have posed a need for current information on growth characteristics. This study is to update the normative data of pubertal linear growth characteristics and distribution of age at menarche in healthy Chinese adolescents.


A multistage stratified cluster sampling investigation based on age and sex was designed for anthropometric data collection in 2008, including 15,204 healthy boys and 13,047 healthy girls. The PB1 mathematical growth model was utilized to derive biological parameters of the adolescent growth curves. Ages at menarche were estimated in 6,476 girls through probit analysis at the ages at which 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 90% of the girls attained menarche.


The peak growth age (PGA) was 12.6 years for boys and 10.6 years for girls. The PHV was 6.91 cm/yr in boys and 6.69 cm/yr in girls. The overall increments of adult height since 1985 were 3.3 cm for males and 2.3 cm for females, yielded rates of 1.4 and 1.0 cm/decade, respectively. Less than 10% of Chinese girls experience onset of menses before 11.38 years, and approximately 90% of all Chinese girls are menstruating by 13.88 years, with a median age of 12.63 years.


The current study showed an advancing trend in PGA in both Chinese boys and girls. Decreasing menarche age was also observed for Chinese girls. These updated data would serve as useful reference for interpretation of endocrine and growth status and growth disorders in Chinese during peripubertal period. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.