Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Early puberty in 11-year-old girls: Millennium Cohort Study findings.



Early puberty in girls is linked to some adverse outcomes in adolescence and mid-life. We address two research questions: (1) Are socioeconomic circumstances and ethnicity associated with early onset puberty? (2) Are adiposity and/or psychosocial stress associated with observed associations?


Longitudinal data on 5839 girls from the UK Millennium Cohort Study were used to estimate associations between ethnicity, family income, adiposity and psychosocial stress with a marker of puberty.

Main outcome measure

Reported menstruation at age 11 years.


All quoted ORs are statistically significant. Girls in the poorest income quintile were twice as likely (OR=2.1), and the second poorest quintile nearly twice as likely (OR=1.9) to have begun menstruation compared with girls in the richest income quintile. Estimates were roughly halved on adjustment for Body Mass Index and markers of psychosocial stress (poorest, OR=1.5; second poorest, OR=1.5). Indian girls were over 3 times as likely compared with whites to have started menstruation (OR=3.5) and statistical adjustments did not attenuate estimates. The raised odds of menstruation for Pakistani (OR=1.9), Bangladeshi (OR=3.3) and black African (OR=3.0) girls were attenuated to varying extents, from about a third to a half, on adjustment for income and adiposity.


In contemporary UK, excess adiposity and psychosocial stress were associated with social inequalities in early puberty, while material disadvantage and adiposity were linked to ethnic inequalities in early puberty among girls.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View