Researchers Find Link Between Childhood Abuse and Age at Menarche
ScienceDaily (July 27, 2012) — Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found an association between childhood physical and sexual abuse and age at menarche. The findings are published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.
Researchers led by corresponding author, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at BUSM, found a 49 percent increase in risk for early onset menarche (menstrual periods prior to age 11 years) among women who reported childhood sexual abuse compared to those who were not abused. In addition, there was a 50 percent increase in risk for late onset menarche (menstrual periods after age 15 years) among women who reported severe physical abuse in childhood. The participants in the study included 68,505 women enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II, a prospective cohort study.
"In our study child abuse was associated with both accelerated and delayed age at menarche and importantly, these associations vary by type of abuse, which suggest that child abuse does not have a homogenous effect on health outcomes," said Boynton-Jarrett.
Renée Boynton-Jarrett, Rosalind J. Wright, Frank W. Putnam, Eileen Lividoti Hibert, Karin B. Michels, Michele R. Forman, Janet Rich-Edwards. Childhood Abuse and Age at Menarche. Journal of Adolescent Health, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2012.06.006
Fifty-seven percent of respondents reported some form of physical or sexual abuse in childhood. We found a positive dose–response association between severity of sexual abuse in childhood and risk for early menarche. Compared with women who reported no childhood sexual abuse, the adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for early menarche in women who reported childhood sexual abuse was 1.20 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.10, 1.37) for sexual touching and 1.49 (95% CI: 1.34, 1.66) for forced sexual activity. Severe physical abuse predicted early menarche (AOR = 1.22, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.37). Childhood physical abuse had a dose–response association with late age at menarche: AOR 1.17 (95% CI: 1.04, 1.32) for mild, 1.20 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.33) for moderate, and 1.50 (95% CI: 1.27, 1.77) for severe physical abuse. Sexual abuse was not associated with late menarche.
Childhood abuse was prevalent in this large cohort of U.S. women. Severity of childhood sexual abuse was associated with risk for early onset of menarche, and physical abuse was associated with both early and late onset of menarche.