Secular trends in age at menarche among Chinese girls from 24 ethnic minorities, 1985 to 2010

Yi Song, Jun Ma*, Anette Agardh, Patrick W C LAU, Peijin Hu, Bing Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Declining age at menarche has been observed in many countries. In China, a decrease of 4.5 months per decade in the average age at menarche among the majority Han girls has recently been reported. However, the trends in age at menarche among ethnic minority girls over the past 25 years remain unknown. Objectives: To compare the differences in median age at menarche among girls aged 9-18 years across 24 ethnic minorities in 2010 and to estimate the trends in age at menarche in different ethnic minorities from 1985 to 2010. Design: We used data from six cross-sectional Chinese National Surveys on Students' Constitution and Health (1985, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2005, and 2010). The median age at menarche was estimated by using probit analysis. Results: In 2010, the ethnic minorities with the earliest age at menarche were the Koreans (11.79 years), Mongolians (12.44 years), and Zhuang (12.52 years). The three ethnic minorities with the latest age at menarche were the Sala (14.32 years), Yi (13.74 years), and Uighurs (13.67 years). From 1985 to 2010, the age at menarche declined in all 24 minority groups. The Lisu, Kazakh, and Korean minorities showed the largest reductions in age at menarche by 1.79 (p <0.05), 1.69 (p <0.05), and 1.57 (p <0.05) years, respectively, from 1985 to 2010. The Yi, Sala, and Li minorities showed the smallest reductions, with age at menarche declining by only 0.06 (p <0.05), 0.15 (p <0.05), and 0.15 (p <0.05) years, respectively, in the same period. Conclusion: A large variation in age at menarche was observed among different ethnic minorities, with the earliest age at menarche found among Korean girls. A reduction in the average age at menarche appeared among most of the ethnic minorities over time, and the largest decrease was observed in Lisu, Kazakh, and Korean girls. Thus, health education should focus on targeting the specific needs of each ethnic minority group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26929
JournalGlobal Health Action
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Girls
  • Menarche
  • Puberty development
  • Trend analysis


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