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Journal of Adolescent Health

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Childhood abuse -- Case studies -- Peru



Childhood abuse has been associated with age of menarche in some studies, but not all, and few have assessed the independent associations of sexual and physical abuse with early menarche. We examined the association between childhood abuse and early menarche among pregnant women in Lima, Peru.


Multinomial logistic regression procedures were used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for early menarche (≤11 years) in relation to any physical or sexual childhood abuse, physical abuse only, sexual abuse only, and both physical and sexual abuse in a cohort of 1,499 pregnant (first trimester) women.


Approximately 69% of participants reported experiencing physical or sexual abuse in childhood. The frequencies of physical abuse only, sexual abuse only, and both physical and sexual abuse were 37.4%, 7.7%, and 24.5%, respectively. Compared with women who reported no childhood abuse, those who reported any childhood abuse had a 1.38-fold increased odds of early menarche (95% CI, 1.01–1.87). Compared with no abuse, the odds of early menarche was 1.60-fold among women with childhood sexual abuse only (OR, 1.60; 95% CI, .93–2.74) and 1.56-fold for those with both physical and sexual abuse (OR, 1.56; 95% CI, 1.07–2.25) during childhood. Isolated physical abuse was weakly associated with early menarche (OR, 1.23; 95% CI, .87–1.74). There was no clear evidence of association of childhood abuse with late menarche (≥15 years).


Childhood abuse, particularly joint physical and sexual abuse, is associated with early menarche. Our findings add to an expanding body of studies documenting the enduring adverse health consequences of childhood abuse.


Copyright: Barrios, Y. V., Sanchez, S. E., Nicolaidis, C., Garcia, P. J., Gelaye, B., Zhong, Q., & Williams, M. A. (2015). This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article that subsequently appeared as Childhood abuse and early menarche among Peruvian women. Journal of Adolescent Health, 56(2), 197-202. The version of record may be found at:



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