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.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.