Secular trend in age at menarche in indigenous and nonindigenous women in Chile
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OBJECTIVES: To estimate the secular trend in age at menarche, comparing indigenous and nonindigenous women, and its relationship with socio-demographic, family and nutritional factors. METHODS: A study (historical cohorts) of 688 indigenous and nonindigenous women, divided into four birth cohorts (1960-69, 1970-79, 1980-89, and 1990-96) in an area in central southern Chile was carried out. Data and measurements were collected by health professionals using a previously validated questionnaire. Age at menarche was self-reported (recall). Adjusted differences among cohorts were estimated using a multivariate regression model. RESULTS: A secular trend (P < 0.001) in age at menarche was found in both ethnic groups, with no significant differences between them (P > 0.05). In an adjusted model, a reduction in age at menarche was estimated at 3.7 months per decade between 1960 and 1990. This trend was moderated by higher socio-economic level, smaller number of siblings, and cohabitation with a single parent during infancy. CONCLUSIONS: The trend has occurred in a steady progression over time in indigenous women, whereas in nonindigenous women, it was slow initially but has accelerated in recent years. Nonindigenous women have maintained a slightly lower age of menarche than their indigenous counterparts.
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