Age at Menarche Among In-School Adolescents in Sawla Town, South Ethiopia
Background: Although a declining trend in age at menarche has been observed in developed countries over decades commonly attributed to childhood excessive weight gain and sedentary life, little is known about this case in the developing countries.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design and multistage sampling was used to include 660 school adolescents for analysis. Data collection included weight and height measurements. Multinomial logistic regression analyses were done for early and late age of menarche, in reference to average age at menarche, to measure the association of age at menarche with some socio-demographic variables and body habits.
Results: The mean age at menarche was 13.9±1.2 years (95%CI, 13.8-14.0). The menarche ages ranged between 10 and 12 years for 10.5%, 13 and 14 years for 54.5%, and 15+ years for 35%. Low menarche age was independently associated with high calorie consumption, high protein diet, more coffee intake, low physical activity and parents’ low educational background. Low body mass index, low parents' income, exercise, and Amhara ethnic background were associated with late menarche age.
Conclusion: The mean menarche age found in this study was higher than the report from developed countries. But, the proportion of adolescents with low menarche age was comparable with reports from developed countries. Inactive adolescents were more likely to see menarche earlier than average age. Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and nutrition education need to be promoted among school children.
Keywords: adolescent, cross sectional, menarche age, Ethiopia