Public Health Nutrition

Biological and behavioural determinants

Diet throughout childhood and age at menarche in a contemporary cohort of British girls

Imogen S Rogersa1 c1, Kate Northstonea2, David B Dungera3, Ashley R Coopera4, Andy R Nessa5 and Pauline M Emmetta6

a1 School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton, Cockcroft Building, Lewes Road, Brighton BN2 4GJ, UK

a2 Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

a3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, UK

a4 Department of Exercise, Nutrition and Health Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

a5 Department of Oral and Dental Science, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

a6 Department of Community-based Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Abstract

Objective To investigate associations between dietary intakes throughout childhood and age at menarche, a possible indicator of future risk of disease, in a contemporary cohort of British girls.

Design Diet was assessed by FFQ at 3 and 7 years of age, and by a 3 d unweighed food diary at 10 years. Age at menarche was categorised as before or after 12 years 8 months, a point close to the median age in this cohort.

Setting Bristol, South-West England.

Subjects Girls (n 3298) participating in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children.

Results Higher energy intakes at 10 years were positively associated with the early occurrence of menarche, but this association was removed on adjusting for body size. Total and animal protein intakes at 3 and 7 years were positively associated with age at menarche ≤12 years 8 months (adjusted OR for a 1 sd increase in protein at 7 years: 1·14 (95 % CI 1·04, 1·26)). Higher PUFA intakes at 3 and 7 years were also positively associated with early occurrence of menarche. Meat intake at 3 and 7 years was strongly positively associated with reaching menarche by 12 years 8 months (OR for menarche in the highest v. lowest category of meat consumption at 7 years: 1·75 (95 % CI 1·25, 2·44)).

Conclusions These data suggest that higher intakes of protein and meat in early to mid-childhood may lead to earlier menarche. This may have implications for the lifetime risk of breast cancer and osteoporosis.

(Received August 05 2009)

(Accepted April 13 2010)

(Online publication June 08 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Corresponding author: Email i.s.rogers@brighton.ac.uk

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