New study finds that Black children begin to menstruate at earlier ages

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By Kay Wicker, theGrio

According to a new study published in JAMA, menarche — a female’s first period — has occurred steadily earlier and earlier for generations since the 1950s. But the cycle may start much earlier for youth of color. (Adobe Stock)

For half of the world’s population, puberty and the body’s changing hormones means the beginning of periods. For many females, starting their period is a rite of passage that typically occurs around middle school, but the cycle may start much earlier for some, particularly children of color.

According to a new study published in JAMA, menarche — the first period — has occurred steadily earlier and earlier for generations since the 1950s. Researchers examined data collected from 71,341 U.S.-based females born between 1950 and 2005. They observed “significant” trends toward earlier menarche in non-Hispanic Black, Asian, and mixed-race individuals compared with non-Hispanic whites.

“This is important because early menarche and irregular periods can signal physical and psychosocial problems later in life,” lead author Dr. Zifan Wang, a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University, told CNN about the study’s findings.

“These trends, he added, “may contribute to the increase in adverse health outcomes and disparities in the U.S.”

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