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J Nutr. 2015 Aug;145(8):1900-8. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.214270. Epub 2015 Jul 1.

Milk Consumption after Age 9 Years Does Not Predict Age at Menarche.

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Departments of Epidemiology.
Departments of Epidemiology, Nutrition, and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, and.
Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA;
Departments of Epidemiology, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA; and.
Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, MA.
Departments of Epidemiology, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, and Obstetrics and Gynecology Epidemiology Center, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA;



Regular milk consumption during childhood and adolescence is recommended for bone health. However, milk consumption increases circulating insulin-like growth factor I concentrations, and may also accelerate puberty.


We prospectively investigated the association between milk consumption and age at menarche in the Growing Up Today Study.


Study participants were 5583 US girls who were premenarcheal and ages 9-14 y in 1996. Girls were followed through 2001, at which time 97% of noncensored participants had reported menarche. Frequency of milk and meat consumption was calculated with the use of annual youth/adolescent food frequency questionnaires from 1996-1998. Intake of related nutrients was also measured. Age at menarche was self-reported annually through 2001.


During follow-up, 5227 girls attained menarche over 10,555 accrued person-years. In models adjusted for dietary and sociodemographic predictors of menarche, frequency of milk consumption did not predict age at onset of menarche (for >3 glasses of milk/d vs. 1.1-4 glasses/wk, HR: 0.93; 95% CI: 0.83, 1.04). After additional adjustment for body size, premenarcheal girls consuming >3 glasses of milk daily were 13% less likely (95% CI: -3%, -23%; P-trend: <0.01) to attain menarche in the next month relative to those consuming 1.1-4 glasses/wk. Neither total meat nor red meat consumption was associated with age at menarche.


Our findings suggest that regular consumption of milk in girls aged ≥9 y is unlikely to substantially affect age at onset of menarche. Studies assessing associations between diet in early childhood and pubertal timing may be more illuminating.


Growing Up Today Study; dairy products; diet; meat; menarche; milk

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