Timing of maturation and predictors of Tanner stage transitions in boys enrolled in a contemporary British cohort

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2011 Jan;25(1):75-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2010.01168.x. Epub 2010 Nov 5.


This study describes the timing of puberty in 8- to 14-year-old boys enrolled in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and identifies factors associated with earlier achievement of advanced pubic hair stages. Women were enrolled during pregnancy and their offspring were followed prospectively. We analysed self-reported pubic hair Tanner staging collected annually. We used survival models to estimate median age of attainment of pubic hair stage >1, stage >2 and stage >3 of pubic hair development. We also constructed multivariable logistic regression models to identify factors associated with earlier achievement of pubic hair stages. Approximately 5% of the boys reported Tanner pubic hair stage >1 at age 8; 99% of boys were at stage >1 by age 14. The estimated median ages of entry into stages of pubic hair development were 11.4 years [95% confidence interval (CI) 11.3, 11.4] for stage >1, 12.7 years [95% CI 12.7, 12.8] for stage >2 and 13.5 years [95% CI 13.5, 13.6] for stage >3. Predictors of younger age at Tanner stage >1 included low birthweight, younger maternal age at delivery and being taller at age 8. Associations were found between younger age at attainment of stage >2 and gestational diabetes and taller or heavier body size at age 8. Being taller or heavier at age 8 also predicted younger age at Tanner stage >3. The results give added support to the strong influence of pre-adolescent body size on male pubertal development; the tallest and heaviest boys at 8 years achieved each stage earlier and the shortest boys later. Age at attainment of pubic hair Tanner stages in the ALSPAC cohort are similar to ages reported in other European studies that were conducted during overlapping time periods. This cohort will continue to be followed for maturational information until age 17.

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
  • Genitalia, Male / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sexual Maturation / physiology*
  • Social Environment
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom