Dairy intake in relation to breast and pubertal development in Chilean girls

Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 May;105(5):1166-1175. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.150359. Epub 2017 Apr 5.


Background: Frequent dairy consumption in childhood has been related to higher growth-hormone concentrations that may affect mammary gland and pubertal development.Objective: We evaluated the relation of dairy intake to breast composition at Tanner stage 4 and age at menarche.Design: A total of 515 Chilean girls are included in the Growth and Obesity Cohort Study. The subjects have been followed longitudinally since they were 3-4 y old (from 2006 to the present). Starting in 2013, diet was assessed every 6 mo via a 24-h recall. The breast fibroglandular volume (FGV) was measured with the use of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at Tanner stage 4. The date of menarche was reported every 6 mo. Our analysis included 290 girls with data on prospective diet and breast composition and 324 girls with data on prospective diet and age at menarche.Results: The mean ± SD breast FGV and percentage of fibroglandular volume (%FGV) (i.e., FGV divided by total breast volume times 100) at Tanner stage 4 was 81.7 ± 32.2 cm3 and 42.0% ± 16.7%, respectively. Only sweetened, artificially flavored milk-based drinks were associated with the %FGV with girls who consumed >125 g/d having a %FGV that was 4.5% (95% CI: 0.9%, 8.1%) higher than that of girls who consumed none (P-trend = 0.007). Yogurt intake was associated with a lower FGV. Specifically, girls who consumed >125 g yogurt/d had -10.2 cm3 (95% CI: -20.2, -0.3 cm3) less FGV than did girls who consumed no yogurt (P-trend = 0.03). The majority (90.7%) of girls in our cohort attained menarche before the data analyses with a mean ± SD age at menarche of 11.9 ± 0.7 y. In multivariable models, low-fat dairy, low-fat milk, and yogurt intakes were associated with a later age at menarche. In particular, girls who consumed >125 g yogurt/d had menarche, on average, 4.6 mo (95% CI: 1.9, 7.4 mo) later than girls who consumed no yogurt (P-trend = 0.01).Conclusion: More-frequent consumption of sweetened, artificially-flavored milk-based drinks is associated with a higher %FGV, whereas higher yogurt intake is associated with a lower FGV and delayed age at menarche in Chilean girls.

Keywords: age at menarche; breast composition; dairy; development; puberty.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Breast / growth & development*
  • Child
  • Chile
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet Records
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mammary Glands, Human
  • Menarche*
  • Mental Recall
  • Milk*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puberty, Precocious / etiology
  • Sexual Maturation*
  • Yogurt*


  • Dietary Sucrose