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Reproductive Health

, 13:121

First Online: 23 September 2016Received: 27 May 2016Accepted: 15 September 2016DOI: 10.1186-s12978-016-0240-y

Cite this article as: Lee, MH., Kim, S.H., Oh, M. et al. Reprod Health 2016 13: 121. doi:10.1186-s12978-016-0240-y


BackgroundAn 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.

MethodsWe 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.

ResultsOverall 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.

ConclusionsA 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.

KeywordsMenarche Puberty Secular trend Adolescents AbbreviationsANOVAAnalysis of variance

BMIBody mass index

HRHazard ratios

KCDCPKorea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

KNHANESKorean National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys

PCOSPolycystic ovary syndrome

SDStandard deviation

SEStandard errors

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Autor: Mee-Hwa Lee - Shin Hye Kim - Minkyung Oh - Kuk-Wha Lee - Mi-Jung Park


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