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Childhood Sexual, Physical Abuse Tied to Age at Menarche

Sexual, physical abuse up odds of early menarche; physical abuse also ups odds for late menarche

THURSDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood sexual and physical abuse correlate with age at menarche, according to a study published online July 26 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Renée Boynton-Jarrett, M.D., Sc.D., from the Boston Medical Center, and colleagues examined the correlation between childhood physical and sexual abuse and age at menarche among 68,505 participants enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study II.

The researchers found that more than half of the respondents (57 percent) reported some form of sexual or physical abuse in childhood. The severity of sexual abuse in childhood correlated positively with the risk for early onset menarche (before age 11), in a dose-response association. Women who experienced sexual touching and forced sexual activity had significantly increased adjusted odds ratios (aORs) for early menarche (1.20 and 1.49, respectively), compared with those who reported no childhood sexual abuse. Early menarche was predicted by severe physical abuse (aOR, 1.22). There was a dose-response association noted for childhood physical abuse with late age at menarche (older than 15), with aORs of 1.17 for mild abuse, 1.20 for moderate abuse, and 1.50 for severe physical abuse. There was no association between sexual abuse and late menarche.

"In our study child abuse was associated with both accelerated and delayed age at menarche and, importantly, these associations vary by type of abuse, which suggest that child abuse does not have a homogenous effect on health outcomes," Boynton-Jarrett said in a statement. "There is a need for future research to explore characteristics of child abuse that may influence health outcomes, including type, timing, and severity of abuse, as well as the social context in which the abuse occurs."

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