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Revista de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0034-8910


MARTINEZ, Jeovany; ARAUJO, Cora; HORTA, Bernardo Lessa  and  GIGANTE, Denise Petrucci. Growth patterns in early childhood and the onset of menarche before age twelve. Rev. Saúde Pública [online]. 2010, vol.44, n.2, pp.249-260. ISSN 0034-8910.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship between growth patterns in early childhood and the onset of menarche before age 12. METHODS: The study included 2,083 women from a birth cohort study conducted in the city of Pelotas, Southern Brazil, starting in 1982. Anthropometric, behavioral, and pregnancy-related variables were collected through home interviews. Statistical analyses were performed using Pearson's chi-square and chi-square test for linear trends. A multivariable analysis was carried out using Poisson regression based on a hierarchical model. RESULTS: Mean age of menarche was 12.4 years old and the prevalence of menarche before age 12 was 24.3%. Higher weight-for-age, height-for-age, and weight-for-height z-scores at 19.4 and 43.1 months of age were associated with linear tendencies of increased prevalence and relative risks of the onset of menarche before age 12. Girls who experienced rapid growth in weight-for-age z-score from birth to 19.4 months of age and in weight-for-age or height-for-age z-scores from 19.4 to 43.1 months of age also showed higher risk of menarche before age 12. Higher risk was seen when rapid growth in weight-for-age z-score was seen during these age intervals and the highest risk was found among those in the first tertile of Williams' curve at birth. Rapid growth in weight-for-height z-score was not associated with menarche before age 12. CONCLUSIONS: Menarche is affected by nutritional status and growth patterns during early childhood. Preventing overweight and obesity during early childhood and keeping a "normal" growth pattern seem crucial for the prevention of health conditions during adulthood.

Keywords : Menarche; Puberty; Child Development; Adolescent Development; Sexual Maturation; Body Weights and Measures; Risk Factors; Cohort Studies; Weight by age; Height by Weight; Height by Age.

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