Associations of early life and sociodemographic factors with menarcheal age in European adolescents

Evelien Meulenijzer, Krishna Vyncke, Idoia Labayen, Aline Meirhaeghe, Laurent Béghin, Christina Breidenassel, Vanesa España-Romero, Υannis Manios, Marika Ferrari, Luis A. Moreno, Frédéric Gottrand, Stefaan De Henauw, Marcela González-Gross, Anthony Kafatos, Kurt Widhalm, Dénes Molnár, Michael Sjöstrom, Ascensión Marcos, Odysseas Androutsos, Julia WärnbergChantal C. Gilbert, Inge Huybrechts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Early menarche has been associated with adult overweight, cardiovascular risk factors, and other diseases. Little is known about the determinants of menarcheal age (MA). Therefore, the main aim of this study was to examine the associations between early life programming factors and menarcheal age in European adolescents. Secondly, the influence of sociodemographical factors on menarcheal age was also studied. A total of 1,069 European girls from the HELENA cross-sectional study, aged 12.5–17.5 years, were included in this study. Using multilevel linear regression models, a possible association between birth weight and length, ponderal index at birth, gestational age, duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and menarcheal age was examined. Associations between geographical gradient, number of siblings, physical activity (PA), dietary factors, and menarcheal age were also examined. After adjustment, menarcheal age was positively associated with birth weight and length (p = 0.01 and p = 0.01). Conclusion: These findings confirm that birth weight and length may have a programming effect on menarcheal age. Next to this finding, sociodemographic factors were not associated with menarcheal age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2015



  • Birth size
  • Breastfeeding
  • Gestational age
  • Menarche
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

Cite this

Meulenijzer, E., Vyncke, K., Labayen, I., Meirhaeghe, A., Béghin, L., Breidenassel, C., España-Romero, V., Manios, Υ., Ferrari, M., Moreno, L. A., Gottrand, F., De Henauw, S., González-Gross, M., Kafatos, A., Widhalm, K., Molnár, D., Sjöstrom, M., Marcos, A., Androutsos, O., ... Huybrechts, I. (2015). Associations of early life and sociodemographic factors with menarcheal age in European adolescents. European Journal of Pediatrics, 174(2), 271-278.