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Reprod Health. 2016 Sep 23;13(1):121.

Age at menarche in Korean adolescents: trends and influencing factors.

Author information

1
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, CHA Bundang Medical Center, School of Medicine, CHA University, 59 Yatap-ro, Bundang-gu, Seongnam, 13496, Korea.
2
Department of Pediatrics, Sanggye Paik Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, 761-1 Sanggye-7-dong, Nowon-gu, 139-707, Seoul, Korea.
3
Clinical Trial Center, Busan Paik Hospital and Department of Pharmacology, Inje University College of Medicine, Busan, Korea.
4
Adventist Health System, Orlando, FL, USA.
5
Department of Pediatrics, Sanggye Paik Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, 761-1 Sanggye-7-dong, Nowon-gu, 139-707, Seoul, Korea. PMJ@paik.ac.kr.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

An increased incidence of central precocious puberty has been recently reported in South Korea, which suggests an ongoing downward trend in pubertal development in the Korean population. We aimed to verify the trend in age at menarche in young Korean women during the last decade and associated factors.

METHODS:

We analyzed a population-based sample of 3409 Korean girls, aged 10-18 years, using data from the Korean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (KNHANES) II (2001), III (2005), IV (2007-2009), and V (2010 and 2011). Average age at menarche was studied using the Kaplan-Meier survival method and predictors were analyzed using Cox proportional hazards model. The percentage of subjects who had experienced menarche at each age level was compared by using the Cochran-Armitage test.

RESULTS:

Overall mean age at menarche was 12.7 years. The percentage of subjects who experienced menarche before the age of 12 years was 21.4 % in 2001 but increased to 34.6 % in 2010/2011 (p < 0.01). In addition, the percentage of girls who experienced menarche before the age of 14 years increased from 76 % in 2001 to 92 % in 2010/2011 (p < 0.005). Adolescents whose mothers who had experienced early menarche (HR 1.48, 95 % CI [1.22-1.80]), and adolescents who were overweight (HR 1.24, 95 % CI [1.04-1.49]) were more likely to have experienced menarche. Additionally, underweight adolescents (HR 0.27, 95 % CI [0.12-0.60]) and adolescents who had a mother having late menarche (HR 0.68, 95 % CI [0.59-0.79]) were expected to have late menarche. None of the socioeconomic factors assessed in our study showed an association with age at menarche.

CONCLUSIONS:

A downward trend in age at menarche was defined in Korean adolescents during the last decade. Furthermore, influences of genetic and nutritional parameters on individual variance in age at menarche were defined.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescents; Menarche; Puberty; Secular trend

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