Objectives: To evaluate the impact of early, mid-onset, and late maturation, as assessed by timing of menarche, on height, height velocity, weight, body mass index, and sum of skinfolds in a group of white and black girls.
Study design: The Growth and Health Study recruited 9- and 10-year-old girls from Richmond, California, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Washington, DC. There were 616 white and 539 black participants recruited at age 9 and 550 white and 674 black participants recruited at age 10. Participants were seen annually for 10 visits. Longitudinal regression models were used to test for differences in each growth measure by timing of menarche across all ages and to determine whether these differences change with age.
Results: Mean age at menarche among white participants was 12.7 years, and among black participants, 12.0 years. According to race-specific 20th and 80th percentiles, early maturers were tallest at early ages and shortest after adult stature had been attained. Peak height velocity and post-menarche increment in stature were greatest in early maturers and least in late maturers. Weight was greatest in early and least in late maturers, as was body mass index. Sum of skinfolds was also greatest in early and least in late maturers. There was no impact of timing of maturation on two common measures of regional fat distribution.
Conclusions: Girls who matured early were shorter in early adulthood, despite having greater peak height velocity and post-menarchal increment in height. Throughout puberty, early maturers had greater ponderosity and adiposity, although there was no association with regional distribution of fat.