Mother’s Weight Determines Daughter’s Menarche?

Does it seem like daughters are growing into women (at least physically) faster than in previous generations?

This may be an interesting consequence of the obesity epidemic, based on new research by Sarah Keim and colleagues from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD, USA, just published in EPIDEMIOLOGY.

In a follow-up study of the prospective Collaborative Perinatal Project, about 600 grown daughters were asked in 1987-1991 for their age at menarche and compared to data from the original Collaborative Perinatal Project (1959-1966), which included their mothers’ height and prepregnancy weight.

Compared with mothers with a BMI less than 25, the daughters of mothers with a BMI of 30 or greater were three times more likely to experience their first period at ages 12 or younger. This association remained after adjusting for maternal age at menarche, maternal parity, socioeconomic status, and other factors.

While the data clearly show an association between maternal obesity and younger menarcheal age among daughters in this study, the study of course does not prove causality nor does it provide any insight into the biological mechanisms underlying this association.

Nevertheless, I do wonder about the consequences of early menarche on the psyche and physical development of young girls born to obese mothers and its impact on future generations.

Berlin, Germany