Nav: Home

Age at which women experience their first period is linked to their sons' age at puberty

October 11, 2018

The age at which young women experience their first menstrual bleeding is linked to the age at which their sons start puberty, according to the largest study to investigate this association in both sons and daughters.

The research, which is published today (Friday) in Human Reproduction [1], one of the world's leading reproductive medicine journals, looked at 15,822 children and found that the earlier women had their first period, the earlier their sons started puberty, and the later they had their first period, the later their sons started puberty.

The same association was found for daughters but, whereas, it has been known for some time that mothers' age at puberty is associated with their daughters', much less was known about the link with their sons' age at puberty. The authors of the study say their results are consistent with other research that suggests that there is an overlap in the genes that influence the timing of puberty in both sons and daughters.

The researchers, based at Aarhus University, Denmark, studied a group of children who were part of the Danish National Birth Cohort and who were born between 2000 and 2003. They followed them up to October 2016 and during this time they interviewed the mothers twice during pregnancy and asked them to fill in a questionnaire when the children were seven. The mothers were asked about their age when they had their first menstrual bleed. From the age of 11 years, the children completed questionnaires every six months that included questions on puberty.

One of the study authors, Dr Nis Brix, said: "We found that mothers who reported having their first menstrual bleed earlier than their peers had sons with signs of puberty starting earlier than their peers. The largest difference was when hair started growing in the armpits, which started, on average, approximately two and a half months earlier; their voices broke nearly two months earlier, acne started to develop nearly two months earlier and their first ejaculation of semen was nearly one and a half months earlier. If their mothers started puberty later than their peers, then the sons experienced first ejaculation, growth of armpit hair and acne development later than their peers."

Similar results were seen in daughters. The largest difference was seen in breast development, which started up to six months earlier in girls whose mothers had experienced earlier periods than their peers, or up to four months later in girls whose mothers had started puberty later than their peers.

"The relationship between first menstrual bleeding in mothers and the first menstrual bleeding in their daughters has been reported in several studies. The novelty of our study was to include other markers of pubertal development in daughters, such as different stages of breast development and pubic hair development and to study sons; the relationship in sons has only been sparsely investigated," said Dr Brix.

The timing of puberty has become earlier over the past century, probably explained by better health and living standards. However, a younger age at puberty has been linked to increased risk of diseases in later adult life, such as breast and testicular cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr Brix concluded: "Whenever a clinician meets a patient with delayed or early onset of puberty, the clinician obtains a family history on whether or not other family members also had either delayed or early puberty. Thus, the relationship between the mother's pubertal age and the son's pubertal age has been taken as common knowledge, but our data from a large national birth cohort confirm the relationship. Put differently: 'We already knew it, but now we have the results to confirm it'."

A limitation of the study is that it relied on mothers reporting information to the researchers. Another limitation is that it relied on children reporting their puberty information by themselves, but a recent validation study by the authors showed that the children were able to report their current pubertal status with moderate accuracy, which the authors believe is acceptable for a large-scale study like this.
-end-
According to the AMS labelling system, this research is peer-reviewed, observational and conducted in people

[1] "Maternal age at menarche and pubertal development in sons and daughters: a Nationwide Cohort Study", by S. Sørensen et al. Human Reproduction journal. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey287.

European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology

Related Puberty Articles:

Study suggests men more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they go through puberty early
Boys who enter puberty at an early age are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults than later developing boys, irrespective of their weight in childhood, according to an observational study following more than 30,600 Swedish men born between 1945 and 1961, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).
Differences in airway size develop during puberty, new study finds
Sex differences in airway size are not innate, but likely develop because of hormonal changes around puberty, reports a new study by the University of Waterloo.
First genomic study of puberty yields insights into development and cancer
In the first-ever genome-scale analysis of the puberty process in humans, researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) outline distinct and critical changes to stem cells in males during adolescence.
Scientists identify new puberty-promoting genes
A team of neuroscientists led by Professor Christiana Ruhrberg (UCL, UK) and Professor Anna Cariboni (University of Milan, Italy) have found two molecules that work together to help set up the sense of smell and pave the way to puberty in mice.
Father's obesity in puberty doubles the risk of asthma in his future offspring
A Norwegian study shows that boys who are obese in pre-puberty have an over two times higher risk of having children with asthma than those who are not.
Research shows puberty changes the brains of boys and girls differently
Scientists have found that brain networks develop differently in males and females at puberty, with boys showing an increase in connectivity in certain brain areas, and girls showing a decrease in connectivity as puberty progresses.
Bone strength could be linked to when you reached puberty
A new study from the University of Bristol has linked bone strength to the timing of puberty.
Study illustrates gaps in knowledge and lack of support for girls during puberty
A study examined girls' transitions through puberty in Madagascar and ways in which menstruation influences their educational experiences and future sexual and reproductive health.
Obesity speeds up the start of puberty in boys, study finds
Girls are not the only ones who go through puberty early if they have obesity.
BMI, but not age at puberty, tied to risk of multiple sclerosis
Some studies have suggested that people who are younger when they enter puberty are more likely to later develop multiple sclerosis (MS).
More Puberty News and Puberty Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Space
One of the most consistent questions we get at the show is from parents who want to know which episodes are kid-friendly and which aren't. So today, we're releasing a separate feed, Radiolab for Kids. To kick it off, we're rerunning an all-time favorite episode: Space. In the 60's, space exploration was an American obsession. This hour, we chart the path from romance to increasing cynicism. We begin with Ann Druyan, widow of Carl Sagan, with a story about the Voyager expedition, true love, and a golden record that travels through space. And astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson explains the Coepernican Principle, and just how insignificant we are. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.