Characteristics of Puberty in a Population-Based Sample of Danish Adolescents

Lea Lykke Harrits Lunddorf*, Cecilia Høst Ramlau-Hansen, Linn Håkonsen Arendt, George C Patton, Susan M Sawyer, S Ghazaleh Dashti, Andreas Ernst, Jørn Olsen, Nis Brix

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

PURPOSE: To describe the duration, timing, tempo, and synchronicity of puberty, as well as the correlation between timing and tempo of puberty.

METHODS: Overall, 15,819 of 22,439 invited children participated in the Puberty Cohort within the Danish National Birth Cohort. Participants completed a web-based questionnaire every 6 months through maturation with questions on current pubertal status. Girls reported current Tanner stage of breast and pubic hair development, and timing of menarche. Boys reported current Tanner stage of genital and pubic hair development, timing of first ejaculation, and vocal changes. While accounting for this interval-censored puberty information, we estimated the duration of puberty. Then, we used a nonlinear mixed effect growth model to estimate timing, tempo, synchronicity of puberty, and correlation between timing and tempo of puberty.

RESULTS: In girls, the average duration of breast development was longer, whereas the average tempo was slower than pubic hair development. The average timing of breast development was earlier than the average timing of pubic hair development. The majority of girls had asynchronous puberty. In boys, the average duration was longer and average tempo slower for genital than pubic hair development. The average timing of genital and pubic hair development were comparable; hence, the majority had synchronous pubertal development. Adolescents who had earlier timing also tended to have a faster tempo.

DISCUSSION: Being one of the largest puberty cohorts worldwide, these unique contemporary data can help physicians, parents, and children to understand and anticipate expected progression through pubertal development.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume74
Issue4
Pages (from-to)657-664
Number of pages8
ISSN1054-139X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2024

Keywords

  • puberty
  • duration
  • timing
  • tempo
  • synchronicity
  • correlation
  • Tanner stage
  • sexual maturation
  • development
  • Puberty
  • Correlation
  • Duration
  • Sexual maturation
  • Tempo
  • Development
  • Timing
  • Synchronicity

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