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Determinants of menarche

DOI: 10.1186/1477-7827-8-115

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Abstract:

The landmarks of the pubertal events in girls are the onset of puberty, peak height velocity (PHV) and menarche. The onset of puberty is marked by the development of breast tissue, while PHV is the highest velocity that is observed during the pubertal growth spurt.Menarche is a rather late event in puberty and usually occurs 6 months after PHV is achieved. The age that menarche occurs varies and is dependent on the interaction between genetic and environmental factors.In the 19th century factors that were thought to exert an influence on the physical maturation of girls were climate (particularly the mean annual temperature), ethnic origin, social status, urban or rural residence, physical activity, education, sexual stimulation, housing, inheritance, and health status [1]. Studies carried out in the 20th century documented other factors associated with the age at menarche, e.g. season and month at birth, physique, position at the sibship, family income, occupation and education of parents and family size [1].It is considered that during the 20th century the dramatic improvement of socioeconomic conditions and general health of the populations in the industrialized countries resulted in an earlier onset of puberty in children. The most reliable marker of the positive secular changes in pubertal development was the fall of the age at menarche. It has been estimated that during most of the 20th century age at menarche has been falling by about 3 months per decade [2], although there are reports from industrialized countries that it has been leveling off or that it shows an upward trend [3,4].Whatever the factors that influence pubertal maturation and age at menarche are, they interrelate and thus the onset of menarche cannot be attributed to a single factor.Aim of this report is to review the neuroendocrinology of pubertal onset and the factors, genetic and environmental, that influence menarcheal age, and also the implications of early or late menarcheal age on a you

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