Childhood abuse and early menarche: findings from the black women's health study

Am J Public Health. 2009 Oct;99 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S460-6. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.149005. Epub 2009 May 14.


Objectives: We examined the association between childhood abuse and early menarche in a sample of US Black women.

Methods: We conducted multivariable log-binomial regression on data from 35 330 participants in the Black Women's Health Study to estimate risk ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the relation of childhood physical and sexual abuse with early age at menarche (i.e., < 12 years).

Results: In adjusted analyses, sexual abuse was positively associated with early menarche, and the risk of early menarche increased with increasing frequency of sexual abuse incidents. We observed a weak but statistically significant association between physical abuse and early menarche. Associations between sexual abuse and early menarche were stronger when we used a more stringent cutpoint for early menarche (i.e., < 11 years).

Conclusions: Our data suggest an increased risk of early menarche among Black women who experienced childhood sexual abuse. Evidence for an association between childhood physical abuse and early menarche was equivocal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Black or African American*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Menarche*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Young Adult