To determine the role of type, timing, and cumulative childhood hardships on age at menarche in a prospective cohort study.
A longitudinal analysis was undertaken of 4524 female participants of the National Child Development Study cohort (1958-2003). Six types of childhood hardships were identified with a factor analysis methodology. Paternal absence/low involvement in childhood was an a priori hardship. Retrospective reports of abuse in childhood also were explored in relation to age at menarche. Generalized logit regression analyses explored the impact of type, timing, and cumulative hardships on age at menarche (≤11, 12-13, ≥14 years).
Cumulative childhood hardships were associated with a graded increase in risk for later menarche with adjusted odds ratio [AOR] of 1.37 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 1.10-1.70), 1.50 (95% CI, 1.18-1.91), and 1.58 (95% CI, 1.29-1.92) among those with two, three, and four or more adversities, respectively. More than two hardships in early life had the strongest association with late menarche (AOR, 2.32; 95% CI, 1.12-4.80). Sexual abuse was most strongly associated with early menarche (AOR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.40-4.81).
Cumulative childhood hardships increased risk for later age at menarche. Child abuse was associated with both early and late menarche, although associations varied by type of abuse.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A woman's age at menarche (first menstrual period) and her age at menopause are the alpha and omega of her reproductive years. The timing of these milestones is critical for a woman's health trajectory over her lifespan, as they are indicators of ovarian function and aging. Both early and late timing of either event are associated with risk for adverse health and psychosocial outcomes. Thus, the search for a relationship between age at menarche and menopause has consequences for chronic disease prevention and implications for public health. This article is a review of evidence from the fields of developmental biology, epidemiology, nutrition, demography, sociology, and psychology that examine the menarche-menopause connection. Trends in ages at menarche and menopause worldwide and in subpopulations are presented; however, challenges exist in constructing trends. Among 36 studies that examine the association between the two sentinel events, ten reported a significant direct association, two an inverse association, and the remainder had null findings. Multiple factors, including hormonal and environmental exposures, socioeconomic status, and stress throughout the life course are hypothesized to influence the tempo of growth, including body size and height, development, menarche, menopause, and the aging process in women. The complexity of these factors and the pathways related to their effects on each sentinel event complicate evaluation of the relationship between menarche and menopause. Limitations of past investigations are discussed, including lack of comparability of socioeconomic status indicators and biomarker use across studies, while minority group differences have received scant attention. Suggestions for future directions are proposed. As research across endocrinology, epidemiology, and the social sciences becomes more integrated, the confluence of perspectives will yield a richer understanding of the influences on the tempo of a woman's reproductive life cycle as well as accelerate progress toward more sophisticated preventive strategies for chronic disease.
Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics 01/2013; 4:1-21. DOI:10.2147/AHMT.S15946
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective:
Younger age at menarche (AAM) may put girls at risk for earlier first sexual intercourse (FSI). Young age at FSI has far-reaching negative outcomes. We describe the longitudinal relationship between AAM and FSI in a large prospective birth cohort.
AAM was collected from 554 girls from the Western Australia (Raine) Pregnancy Cohort Study, prospectively from age 10 or retrospectively at age 14. Age at FSI was collected at ages 17 and 20. Cox regression models describe likelihood of FSI by age and years since menarche for younger (<12 years) and older (≥14 years) AAM relative to average AAM (12-13 years).
Girls with younger AAM and average AAM were equally likely to have FSI by age 16 (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR]: 0.90 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.60-1.35]). FSI by age 16 was less likely among girls with older AAM than those with average AAM (aHR: 0.35 [95% CI: 0.17-0.72]). Girls with younger AAM had a longer median interval between menarche and FSI than girls with average AAM (5.0 years [interquartile range: 4.4-8.5 years] vs 3.7 years [interquartile range: 2.4-5.3 years]). Those with younger AAM were less likely to report FSI within 4 years of menarche than those with average AAM (0-2 years aHR: 0.04 [95% CI: 0.01-0.31]; 2-4 years aHR: 0.36 [95% CI: 0.23-0.55]). By age 20, 429 girls (77.4%) reported FSI.
Younger AAM was not a risk factor for younger age at FSI in this cohort.
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