Background:Hormonal indicators could be useful for detecting early pubertal onset, but there is little research on how they are related to puberty in US girls. We determined median age at hormonal onset of puberty based on luteinizing hormone (LH) and inhibin B (InB) and explored the extent to which body composition moderates this timing process.
Methods:We analyzed anthropometric and hormone data of 698 US peri-pubertal girls ages 6-11.99 y who had participated in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994.
Results:Median age of hormonal onset of puberty was 10.43 y by LH and 10.08 y by InB cut-offs (1.04 mIU/ml for LH and 17.89 pg/ml for InB). Postnatal weight gain modulated onset, making it earlier by 10-11 mo among the highest (greater than +1 SD) relative to normal weight gainers. Onset occurred first in non-Hispanic black (NHB) girls, 10.08 y (95% confidence interval (CI): 10.07-10.09), followed by Mexican-American (MXAM) at 10.64 y (95% CI: 10.63-10.65), and at 10.66 y (95% CI: 10.66-10.67) for non-Hispanic white (NHW) girls using LH. With InB, onset occurred first in MXAM girls at 9.9 y, and at 10.3 y and 10.4 y for their NHB and NHW peers, respectively.
Conclusion:Preadolescent weight gain lowers the age at hormonal onset as defined by LH concentrations. Preventing obesity in childhood may also avert the earlier initiation of the maturation process even at the hormonal level.