A Life Course Study about Menarche, Made Feasible by the Health and Demographic Surveillance System in Matlab, Bangladesh
This study is about the age at menarche (a biomarker) of adolescent girls in Matlab, Bangladesh, and the relative impact of contemporary and early childhood nutritional determinants. Application of the life course perspective requires analyses of longitudinal data. The study involves the follow-up of 707 under-five children who were enrolled in a study on persistent diarrhoea conducted in Matlab in 1988-1989 by Baqui. The follow-up survey took place in 2001. By that year the under-fives had grown up to adolescents, aged 12 to 16 years. Tracing the adolescents was feasible because of the Health and Demographic Surveillance System, which is maintained in Matlab. The results reveal that the relative high median age at menarche (15.1 years) is associated with stunting in early childhood and particularly in adolescence. The study is an example of the further integration of the life course approach to reproductive health research within the discipline of demography.