Early menarche has been associated with adult overweight, cardiovascular risk factors, and other diseases. Little is known about the determinants of menarcheal age (MA). Therefore, the main aim of this study was to examine the associations between early life programming factors and menarcheal age in European adolescents. Secondly, the influence of sociodemographical factors on menarcheal age was also studied. A total of 1,069 European girls from the HELENA cross-sectional study, aged 12.5-17.5 years, were included in this study. Using multilevel linear regression models, a possible association between birth weight and length, ponderal index at birth, gestational age, duration of exclusive breastfeeding, and menarcheal age was examined. Associations between geographical gradient, number of siblings, physical activity (PA), dietary factors, and menarcheal age were also examined. After adjustment, menarcheal age was positively associated with birth weight and length (p = 0.01 and p = 0.01).
Conclusion: These findings confirm that birth weight and length may have a programming effect on menarcheal age. Next to this finding, sociodemographic factors were not associated with menarcheal age.