Age at menarche in relation to maternal use of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea during pregnancy

Am J Epidemiol. 2004 May 1;159(9):862-71. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwh117.


To investigate the potential effects of common early life exposures on age at menarche, the authors examined data collected in a follow-up study of pregnancies that occurred during the 1960s in California. Among 994 female offspring interviewed as adolescents, 98% had started their menstrual periods at a mean age of 12.96 years. After adjustment, the mean age at menarche was a few months earlier among girls whose mothers smoked a pack or more of cigarettes daily during pregnancy compared with unexposed girls (difference = -0.22 years, 95% confidence interval (CI): -0.49, 0.05) and more so among girls who were not White (difference = -0.52 years, 95% CI: -1.1, 0.08). Girls with both high prenatal and childhood passive smoke exposure had an adjusted mean age at menarche about 4 months earlier than those unexposed. The daughter's mean age at menarche varied little by maternal prenatal alcohol consumption. Daughters of tea consumers had a later mean age (difference = 0.41 years at >/= 3 cups (0.7 liter)/day, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.80) and were more likely to start menarche later (>13 years) (odds ratio = 1.7, 95% CI: 0.91, 3.2), but daughters of coffee consumers did not. These suggestive findings, which merit further investigation, may be related to hormonal effects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking* / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking* / epidemiology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Coffee* / adverse effects
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Least-Squares Analysis
  • Logistic Models
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange*
  • Menarche* / drug effects
  • Menarche* / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Smoking* / adverse effects
  • Smoking* / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tea* / adverse effects


  • Coffee
  • Tea