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Keywords:

  • puberty;
  • menarche;
  • ALSPAC;
  • Tanner stages;
  • maternal menarche;
  • maternal smoking;
  • maternal BMI

Summary

This study describes the timing of puberty in 8- to 13-year-old girls enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and identifies factors associated with earlier achievement of menarche. Women were enrolled during pregnancy and their offspring were followed prospectively. We analysed self-reported Tanner staging and menstrual status information collected annually from daughters up to age 13. We used survival models to estimate median age of attainment of stage >1 and stage >2 of breast and pubic hair development and of menarche. We also constructed multivariable logistic regression models to identify factors associated with earlier achievement of menarche.

About 12% of girls reported Tanner breast stage >1 at age 8; 98% of girls were above stage 1 by age 13. For pubic hair, 5% and 95% of girls had attained a stage >1 by 8 and 13 years, respectively. The estimated median age of entry into stage >1 of breast development was 10.14 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 10.08, 10.19), and for pubic hair development the median age was 10.92 years [95% CI, 10.87, 10.97]. One girl (out of 2953) had attained menarche by age 8; 60% had attained menarche by age 13. The estimated median age at menarche was 12.93 years [95% CI, 12.89, 12.98]. Prenatal predictors of menarche by age 11 (12% of girls) included earlier maternal age at menarche, high maternal pre-pregnancy body mass index, smoking during the third trimester, and non-white race; the single postnatal predictor was the girl's body size at 8 years. Age at attainment of breast and pubic hair Tanner stage and age at menarche in the ALSPAC cohort are similar to ages reported in other European studies that were conducted during overlapping time periods. The results also give added support to the strong influence of maternal maturation, pre-adolescent body size and race on the timing of a girl's menarche. This cohort will continue to be followed for maturational information until age 17.