Maternal smoking, demographic and lifestyle factors in relation to daughter's age at menarche


Dr Gayle Windham, California Department of Public Health, 850 Marina Bay Pkwy, Building P, Richmond, CA 94804, USA.


A previous study suggested a younger age at menarche (AAM) among daughters of heavy prenatal smokers, especially among non-Whites. The present study was designed to evaluate that association in another population and to examine other factors that may be related to AAM. We analysed data from the Collaborative Perinatal Project, a nationwide longitudinal study of pregnant women and their children conducted in 1959–66. At three sites, with a predominance of Black participants (80%), AAM was ascertained in the offspring when they were young adults. We included data on 1556 daughters who had a mean AAM of 12.7 years (standard deviation 1.8). Amount smoked by the mothers was obtained from a baseline interview and subsequent prenatal visits. Regression models were run including maternal smoking and other covariates, for only the prenatal period, as well as in models with some childhood characteristics.

In the prenatal factor model, younger mean AAM in daughters was found with maternal characteristics of earlier AAM, being married, and of lower parity. Examining childhood variables, earlier AAM was found among girls with few or no siblings or with higher socio-economic status. Unlike our previous findings, mean AAM was later in daughters of heavy smokers (20+ cigarettes/day), with a delay of 0.31 years [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.008, 0.61], or about 3.7 months in the prenatal model, and 0.34 years [95% CI −0.02, 0.66] in the model with childhood variables included. The pattern was consistent by race. A number of prenatal and childhood factors related to AAM were identified that should be considered when examining exogenous exposures in relation to pubertal onset.