"age at menarche fell from just above 16 years for women born around
1830 to just above 13 years for those born around 1960"
Rosenberg M. Menarcheal age for Norwegian women born 1830-1960. Ann
Hum Biol. 1991 May-Jun;18(3):207-19.
Menarcheal age for Norwegian women born 1830-1960.
Data from birth records from the maternity hospitals in the three main cities in Norway have been used to study the trend in menarcheal age for women born from about 1830 to about 1960. The investigation is based on a sample of 200-300 records around every 10th year from each of the three clinics in partly overlapping time periods relating to a total of 9152 women. The recollected age at menarche fell from just above 16 years for women born around 1830 to just above 13 years for those born around 1960, the decrease being not totally linear. These results correspond closely with a previously published investigation from Oslo from about the same period of time (Brudevoll, Liestol and Walloe, 1979), but our results, which cover more of Norway, show a more linearily shaped curve than the results covering only Oslo. We have also analysed the relationships of several independent variables to menarcheal age, using multivariate linear regression methods. Besides the woman's year of birth, which was the most important variable throughout the whole period of time, various geographical variables were found to be of moderate importance. Being born in the countryside and in towns other than Oslo and Bergen led to a slightly higher age at menarche. No significant difference between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim was detected except for the period up to about 1880 where the Bergen women had about 2.6 months earlier menarche than the Oslo women. Married women amongst the sample had experienced menarche a little earlier than the unmarried, and among married women there was an association between occupation and menarcheal age, women from the lowest social classes having the latest ages at menarche. The importance of these socially related parameters declined with time, and for women born after 1945 the difference seemed to have disappeared. The age at menarche was found to be positively related to a woman's age at first birth; the further back in time the stronger the relation. In addition, delayed age at menarche was also found to be associated with irregularities in the menstrual cycles in later life.