Secular trends in age at menarche in women in the UK born 1908-93: results from the Breakthrough Generations Study

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2011 Jul;25(4):394-400. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2011.01202.x. Epub 2011 May 26.


Menarcheal age decreased over time in Western countries until cohorts born in the mid-20th century. It then stabilised, but limited data are available for recent cohorts. Menarche data were collected retrospectively by questionnaire in 2003-10 from 94,170 women who were participating in the Breakthrough Generations Study, aged 16-98 years, born 1908-93 and resident in the UK. Average menarcheal age declined from women born in 1908-19 (mean=13.5 years) to those born in 1945-49 (mean=12.6 years). It was then stable for several birth cohorts, but resumed its downward trend in recent cohorts (mean=12.3 years in 1990-93 cohort). Trends differed between socio-economic groups, but the recent decline was present in each group. In conclusion, menarcheal age appears to have decreased again in recent cohorts after a period of stabilisation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menarche / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom
  • Young Adult