Changes in menarcheal age in girls exposed to war conditions
ivka Prebeg, Irena Brali
The purpose of this study was to assess changes in mean menarcheal age of girls in the city of ibenik in the period from mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. ibenik is a Dalmatian town which was exposed to hard war conditions in 1991-1995. Menarcheal status of ibenik girls was surveyed three times, in 1981, 1985, and 1996, and included 720, 1,207, and 1,680 girls, respectively, ages 9.5-16.5 years. Mean menarcheal age was estimated by the status quo method and application of probit analysis. Results show a slight decrease in menarcheal age from 1981 to 1985 (from 12.97 ± 0.06 years to 12.87 ± 0.05), and then a significant increase from 12.87 ± 0.05 years in 1985 to 13.13 ± 0.10 years in 1996. The increase in mean menarcheal age occurred in all socioeconomic groups based on parental occupation and number of siblings. In the group of girls whose homes were damaged during war, menarche occurred at an average of 13.53 ± 0.14 years, while those who lost a family member experienced menarche at an older mean age, 13.76 ± 0.27 years. However, when the girls who experienced personal tragedies were excluded the onset of menarche was still later than in girls surveyed in the earlier periods. The results suggest that the general reversal in the secular trend of menarcheal age in ibenik girls can be attributed to persistent psychological pressures and uncertainties associated with conditions of war. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 12:503-508, 2000.