Main Researcher: Christine Wohlfahrt Veje
MD, PhD, EDMaRC Post Doc Scholar
Other Researchers: Katharina Main, Niels Erik Skakkebæk, Anna-Maria Andersson and Hanne Frederiksen
Objective: To elucidate the possible impact of genetics on pubertal timing.
Description: Previous studies from our side have demonstrated a clear and rapid trend towards earlier breast development in Danish girls. Breast development is often the first sign of puberty in girls. Such data suggests that non-genetic, i.e. environmental, factors influence the timing of pubertal onset. To elucidate also the importance of genetic factors on pubertal timing, we have investigated the impact of pubertal timing of the parents.
Data came from our extensive longitudinal mother-child cohort. In all, clinical data and questionnaires from 672 girls and 846 boys and their mothers and fathers were analyzed in the present study.
Outcome: In boys, age at start of puberty was to a high degree determined by when his mother and father went into puberty, pointing towards a high degree of heritability. The same was the case for menarche in girls. However, timing of breast development and pubic hair development in girls was less heritable. This suggests that the trends towards earlier breast development in girls described earlier may very well be caused by environmental factors.