Childhood adversity and pubertal timing: understanding the origins of adulthood cardiovascular risk

Biol Psychol. 2013 Apr;93(1):213-9. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.02.005. Epub 2013 Feb 18.


Objective: To determine whether greater childhood adversity relates to younger menarcheal age; whether younger menarcheal age relates to increased CVD risk; and whether greater childhood adversity relates to increased CVD risk, directly or indirectly (mediated by menarcheal age).

Methods: Among 650 pre-menopausal women (ages 25-45; M=34.9[5.6]), SEM was performed to estimate relations between childhood adversity, menarcheal age, and CVD risk.

Results: Results supported a covariate-adjusted model (RMSEA=0.035; CFI=0.983) in which greater childhood adversity was related to younger menarcheal age (β=-.13, p<.01) and younger menarcheal age was related to greater CVD risk (β=-.18, p<.05). Direct and indirect effects of childhood adversity on CVD risk were non-significant. Re-evaluation of the same model with additional covariate-adjustment for adulthood body composition showed the relation between menarcheal age and CVD risk attenuated (β=-.03, p=.376).

Conclusions: Cross-sectional evidence suggests family-related adversity experiences in childhood confer risk for earlier menarche which, in turn, relates to increased CVD risk in adulthood, possibly via post-pubertal body size.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adult Survivors of Child Abuse*
  • Age Factors
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Menarche / physiology*
  • Menarche / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Puberty / psychology
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology