Age and size at maturity in women: a norm of reaction?

Department of Anthropology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida 32816, USA.
American Journal of Human Biology (Impact Factor: 1.93). 05/2011; 23(3):305-12. DOI: 10.1002/ajhb.21122
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT We present the first review and meta-analysis of the association between adult stature and age at menarche over a broad range of human societies. We then outline possible biological explanations for observed empirical associations.
We analyzed the association between adult stature and age at menarche in 141 samples from published reports, including 35 samples for which the within-sample association was also reported.
Overall and in small-scale societies, later age at menarche is associated with shorter adult stature. However, both between and within samples from industrialized societies, later age at menarche is associated with taller adult stature.
The pattern of associations between adult stature and age at menarche may be explicable as a norm of reaction that evolved according to predictions of life history theory. However, nonadaptive explanations are also plausible, especially for the positive association observed in industrialized societies.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Objectives: We test (McIntyre and Kacerosky's [2011]: Am J Hum Biol 23: 305-312) prediction that the relationship between age at menarche and height switches from negative to positive, in a unidirectional and smooth manner, as the society industrializes. According to this prediction, a mid-level industrial country should exhibit a weak relationship between the two variables. Methods: The 8,013 observations are extracted from the Indonesian Family Life Survey, a nationally representative survey. Indonesia is an intermediate case that exists between the small-scale agrarian societies and industrialized societies examined by McIntyre and Kacerosky. While age at menarche is a recalled and self-reported variable, height is a measured one. The relationship is informally provided in a figure and formally estimated using ordinary least squares (OLS). Results: The informal finding clearly shows no relationship between age at menarche and height. The OLS results also agree that the relationship is very weak. Specifically, despite the large sample size, the relationship is not statistically significant in a linear manner, regardless of whether the outlier group (age at menarche 10) is included or excluded. Various robustness checks are performed to confirm this finding. Conclusions: Our results lend support to McIntyre and Kacerosky's explanation as to why the relationship between age at menarche and height switches from negative to positive as the society industrializes. Furthermore, our results imply that the model (the Day and Rowe model) and theory (life history theory) on which this explanation is based are plausible. (C) 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Human Biology 09/2014; 26(5). DOI:10.1002/ajhb.22571 · 1.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Background: People from Asian populations are generally shorter than other ethnic groups. It is unknown if current universal height references are suitable for affluent South Asian children in the Netherlands. Aims: To develop height-for-age charts for contemporary South Asian children aged 0-20 years living in the Netherlands, to evaluate secular trends, and to compare the charts with current Asian Indian, Dutch and WHO references. Subjects and methods: A population-based study measured 3315 South Asian children aged 0-20 years between 2007-2010. Among this cohort, 6876 measurements were taken. Another 7388 measurements were taken of a historical cohort of 1078 children born between 1974-1976 (aged 0-18 years). Results: An upward trend in height was observed for South Asian children living in the Netherlands between 1992-2010. The height-for-age charts of the South Asian historical cohort were similar to current Asian Indian charts. South Asian children in the Netherlands were shorter than their Dutch contemporaries at every age; and these differences increased further during adolescence. Compared to the WHO height-for-age references, there were considerable discrepancies in height, with curves intersecting twice. Conclusion: The discrepancies between the South Asian and Dutch and WHO height-for-age references indicate differences in growth patterns between the source populations.
    Annals of Human Biology 06/2014; 42(1):1-7. DOI:10.3109/03014460.2014.926988 · 1.15 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Human height is a highly variable trait, both within and between populations, has a high heritability, and influences the manner in which people behave and are treated in society. Although we know much about human height, this information has rarely been brought together in a comprehensive, systematic fashion. Here, we present a synthetic review of the literature on human height from an explicit evolutionary perspective, addressing its phylogenetic history, development, and environmental and genetic influences on growth and stature. In addition to presenting evidence to suggest the past action of natural selection on human height, we also assess the evidence that natural and sexual selection continues to act on height in contemporary populations. Although there is clear evidence to suggest that selection acts on height, mainly through life-history processes but perhaps also directly, it is also apparent that methodological factors reduce the confidence with which such inferences can be drawn, and there remain surprising gaps in our knowledge. The inability to draw firm conclusions about the adaptiveness of such a highly visible and easily measured trait suggests we should show an appropriate degree of caution when dealing with other human traits in evolutionary perspective.
    Biological Reviews 12/2014; DOI:10.1111/brv.12165 · 9.79 Impact Factor