In a prospective birth cohort study of 5295 girls from the UK-based Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), we examined the association between biological father absence in childhood and age at menarche whilst adjusting for antenatal indicators of socioeconomic disadvantage and maternal characteristics. We also examined whether exposure to maternal depression and financial problems during middle childhood mediate the association between father absence and age at menarche. There was stronger evidence for an association between father absence during the first 5 years of life and early timing of menarche compared with father absence between 5 and 10 years. There was evidence that maternal depression and major financial problems explained some of the association between early childhood father absence and age at menarche. Although father absence cannot be a direct target of prevention, family-based programs to address family processes influenced by maternal depression and socioeconomic disadvantage may be effective.
Keywords: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC); Father absence; Maternal depression; Socioeconomic disadvantage; Timing of menarche; UK.
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