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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Aug;20(8):1193-200. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2517. Epub 2011 Jun 28.

Gestational weight gain and daughter's age at menarche.

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  • 1Division of General Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Sexual development begins in utero and enters a dormant phase during infancy. The influence of maternal gestational weight gain (GWG) on daughter's age at menarche has not been explored.


We investigated the association between maternal GWG and age at menarche (<11 years, 11-15 years, >15 years of age) in a large cohort study of U.S. nurses, The Nurses' Health Study II (NHS II), and the Nurses' Mothers' Cohort Study.


Among 32,218 respondents, 7% reported age at menarche <l1, 90% aged 11-15 years, and 3% > age 15. Compared with women whose mothers gained 20-29 lbs during pregnancy, those whose mothers reported <10 lbs or >40 lbs of GWG were 30% more likely to report early onset menarche (<11 years of age) in logistic regression models adjusted for sociodemographic and maternal characteristics, and childhood body size and physical activity: adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05-1.62, and 1.27, 95% CI 1.06-1.56. Maternal GWG was not associated with late menarche in the fully adjusted model (p(trend)=0.07).


These results suggest that either extreme of maternal GWG may influence risk for early age at menarche in daughters. Maternal GWG may be a modifiable risk factor for early menarche.

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