Progression through puberty in girls enrolled in a contemporary British cohort

J Adolesc Health. 2010 Sep;47(3):282-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2010.02.005. Epub 2010 Apr 21.


Purpose: Patterns of pubertal development reflect underlying endocrine function and exposures, and could affect future health outcomes. We used data from a longitudinal cohort to describe factors associated with breast and pubic hair stage and estimate average duration of puberty.

Methods: Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were used to describe timing and duration of pubertal development in girls. Self-reported Tanner stage of breast and pubic hair and menarche status were collected from ages 8-14 through mailed questionnaires. Factors associated with breast and pubic hair stage were identified using ordinal probit models. Age at entry into breast and pubic hair stages, and duration of puberty were estimated using interval-censored parametric survival analysis.

Results: Among the 3,938 participants, being overweight or obese, of non-white race, being the firstborn, and younger maternal age at menarche were associated with more advanced breast and pubic hair stages. Having an overweight or obese mother was associated with more advanced breast stages. Time spent in breast stages 2 and 3 was longer (1.5 years) than time spent in pubic hair stages 2 and 3 (1 year). The average age at menarche was 12.9 (95% CI, 12.8-12.9) years, and average duration of puberty (time from initiation of puberty to menarche) was 2.7 years.

Conclusions: Girls in Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children had a slightly longer duration of puberty compared to an earlier British cohort study. Various maternal and child characteristics were associated with breast and pubic hair stage, including both child and maternal body mass.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Menarche / physiology
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Sexual Development / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom