Environmental and Socio-demographic Determinants of the Age at Menarche among Secondary School Girls in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria
Keywords:Environmental, menarche, determinants
Background: Menarche is one of the most significant events in the transition to re productive capability. It is believed to be influenced by genetic, physiological, environmental and social factors.
Methods: It was a cross-sectional survey over a two month period of two cohorts of 400 secondary school girls from two different communities of Rivers State Nigeria to determine the age at menarche and identify any peculiar environmental or socio-economic variables that may influence this.
Results: The mean menarcheal age (years) for the respondents from school ‘A’ was 13.99 + 1.060SD and that for school ‘B’ was 14.53 + 1.148 SD. The earliest age of menarche was 9 years for school ‘A’ and 11 years for school ‘B’. The latest age of menarche of 17 years was same for both schools ‘A’ and ‘B’. Only one respondent who is an athlete from school ‘A’ was involved in strenuous physical exercise, she was 14 years old and had not attained menarche. The differences in the post-menarcheal mean heights and weights of the respondents from schools A and B at their current ages were statistically significant and when compared against a standard female nomogram for height and weight, there were more small framed respondents from school ‘B’ compared to the individuals from school ‘A’.
Conclusion: Respondents from the more affluent background had significantly lower age of menarche than girls from the less affluent setting. Better socio-economic status, nutrition, greater height and weight are positively associated with a lower age of menarche.
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