Maternal age at menarche and atopy among offspring at the age of 31 years
- aUnit of Environmental Epidemiology, National Public Health Institute, 70701 Kuopio, Finland, bDepartment of Public Health and General Practice, University of Oulu and Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College School of Medicine, London W2 1PG, UK, cDepartment of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University Hospital, University of Oulu, 90220 Oulu, Finland
- Dr B Xu, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College School of Medicine, London W2 1PG, UK email:
- Received 24 November 1999
- Revision requested 31 January 2000
- Revised 31 March 2000
- Accepted 17 April 2000
BACKGROUND Influences of female hormones on the occurrence of allergic disorders have been suggested. Age at menarche may be a marker of endogenous oestrogen levels. Data from a Finnish birth cohort followed to adulthood were analysed to determine whether there is any association between maternal age at menarche and the occurrence of atopy among offspring.
METHODS The study was conducted in 5188 subjects born in northern Finland for whom data collections were started during pregnancy and a follow up examination was completed at the age of 31 years. Atopy was determined by skin prick tests with cat, birch, grass, and mite extracts, and doctor diagnosed asthma was ascertained by questionnaire at follow up. Maternal age at menarche was obtained from perinatal data. Logistic regression models were used to adjust for maternal age, parity, smoking, season of birth, parental allergy, and measures of adiposity and socioeconomic status.
RESULTS The prevalence of atopy at the age of 31 years was lower in children whose mothers reached menarche at a later age, especially after age 15. Compared with children whose mothers started menarche at the age of 16 or over, the adjusted odds ratios of being atopic for children whose mothers started menarche younger than or at 12, 13, 14 and 15 years were 1.43 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.83), 1.29 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.60), 1.15 (95% CI 0.93 to 1.42), and 1.19 (95% CI 0.95 to 1.48), respectively. Among girls, the offspring's own age at menarche was not significantly associated with atopy.
CONCLUSION Our results encourage further evaluation of the potential effect of maternal age at menarche on the later development of atopy and possible biological mechanisms.