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Ann Hum Biol. 2010 Sep-Oct;37(5):717-21. doi: 10.3109/03014461003727606.

Evidence for a downward secular trend in age of menarche in a rural Gambian population.

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MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.


Menarcheal age is a key indicator of female maturity and development. Studies in many countries have reported a downward secular trend in age of menarche over the past century. This study presents data gained using the 'status quo' method and interval regression to estimate median menarcheal age of girls in a rural Gambian community. Cross-sectional studies carried out in 1989, 2000 and 2008 revealed a median menarcheal age of 16.06 (95% CI 15.67-16.45), 15.03 (95% CI 14.76-15.30) and 14.90 (95% CI 14.52-15.28), respectively. The average rate of decline of median age of menarche was amongst the most rapid yet reported, at 0.65 years of age per decade (p < 0.00001). There was no evidence for a change in the rate of decline over the two decades studied. These results probably reflect ongoing socio-economic development within the region.

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