In the last two centuries, age at menarche has decreased in several European populations, whereas adult height has increased. It is unclear whether these trends have ceased in recent years or how age at menarche and height are related in individuals. In this study, the authors first investigated trends in age at menarche and adult height among 286,205 women from nine European countries by computing the mean age at menarche and height in 5-year birth cohorts, adjusted for differences in socioeconomic status. Second, the relation between age at menarche and height was estimated by linear regression models, adjusted for age at enrollment between 1992 and 1998 and socioeconomic status. Mean age at menarche decreased by 44 days per 5-year birth cohort (beta = -0.12, standard error = 0.002), varying from 18 days in the United Kingdom to 58 days in Spain and Germany. Women grew 0.29 cm taller per 5-year birth cohort (standard error = 0.007), varying from 0.42 cm in Italy to 0.98 cm in Denmark. Furthermore, women grew approximately 0.31 cm taller when menarche occurred 1 year later (range by country: 0.13-0.50 cm). Based on time trends, more recent birth cohorts have their menarche earlier and grow taller. However, women with earlier menarche reach a shorter adult height compared with women who have menarche at a later age.
- Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
- body height