Genes that influence the start of menstruation, a milestone of female reproductive health that has lifelong influences on overall health have been identified by an international team of researchers.
The team includes two scientists at the Institute for Aging Research of Hebrew SeniorLife.
The researchers used several population studies, including the Framingham Heart Study, to analyse data from more than 17,500 women to determine when menarche, the start of menstruation, begins,
Typically menarche starts around age 13 or two years after the onset of puberty.
The study provides the first evidence of common genetic variants that influence the normal variation in the timing of female sexual maturation.
According to the scientists, the findings are significant because girls with an earlier age at menarche tend to have a greater body mass index (BMI) and more body fat than girls who begin menstruating at a later age.
Besides, one of the genes is located in a region that influences adult height.
"As earlier age at menarche is associated with shorter stature and obesity later in life, the identified variants may not only clarify the genetic control of female sexual maturation, but may also point to regulatory mechanisms involved in normal human growth and obesity," Nature magazine quoted the scientists as saying in the study.
The breakthrough has been reported online in the journal Nature Genetics.