Age at menarche and the evidence for a positive secular trend in urban South Africa

Laura L Jones, Paula L Griffiths, Shane A Norris, John M Pettifor, Noël Cameron

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Menarcheal age was estimated for 287 (188 Black; 99 White) urban South African girls born in Soweto-Johannesburg in 1990. The median menarcheal age for Blacks was 12.4 years (95% confidence interval (CI) 12.2, 12.6) and 12.5 years (95% CI 11.7, 13.3) for Whites. Data from six studies of menarcheal age, including the current study, were analyzed to examine the evidence for a secular trend between 1956 and 2004 in urban South African girls. There was evidence of a statistically significant secular trend for Blacks, but not Whites. Average menarcheal age for Blacks decreased from 14.9 years (95% CI 14.8, 15.0) in 1956 to 12.4 years (95% CI 12.2, 12.6) in the current study, an average decline of 0.50 years per decade. Fewer data were available for Whites, but average menarcheal age decreased from 13.1 years (95% CI 13.0, 13.2) in 1977 to 12.5 years (95% CI 11.7, 13.3) in the current study, an average decline of 0.22 years per decade. The diminishing age at menarche and the current lack of difference between Blacks and Whites is probably reflective of the continuing nutritional and socio-economic transition occurring within South Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-2
Number of pages3
JournalAnnals of Human Biology
Issue number1
Early online date22 Oct 2008
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009

Bibliographical note

(c) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Menarche
  • Questionnaires
  • South Africa


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