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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Jul;95(7):3194-200. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0080. Epub 2010 Apr 28.

Growth, body composition, and the onset of puberty: longitudinal observations in Afro-Caribbean children.

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  • 1Tropical Metabolism Research Unit, Tropical Medicine Research Institute, University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica, West Indies.



Childhood growth and body composition may influence the onset of puberty.


We examined the effects of birth size, growth rates throughout childhood, and body composition on the onset of puberty in Afro-Caribbean children.


This was a longitudinal birth cohort study (the Vulnerable Windows Cohort Study) in Jamaica.


The anthropometry (weight, height, skinfold measurements, and waist circumference) of 259 children was measured at birth, at 6 wk, every 3 months to 2 yr, and then every 6 months. Tanner staging for puberty and orchidometry were performed every 6 months starting at approximately age 8 yr. Bioelectrical impedance was done at age 11 yr.


In the girls, thelarche, pubarche, and menarche occurred at median ages of 8.8, 9.9, and 12.0 yr, respectively. Pubarche in boys occurred at a median age of 11.3 yr when the median testicular volume was 2.8 ml. Faster weight gain during infancy (age 0-6 months) and childhood, but not birth size, was associated with more advanced puberty (P values <0.05). Fat mass at age 8 yr was associated with more advanced puberty (P values <0.001) in both sexes. At age 11 yr, lean mass, but not fat mass, was associated with more advanced puberty (P values <0.001).


These data support the hypothesis that faster growth throughout childhood, especially with fat mass accretion, is associated with more advanced puberty apart from menarche. With the onset of puberty, lean mass accretion significantly increases.

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