Women who start their periods at an early age are more at risk of birth complications in later life, latest study results suggest.
University of Cambridge researchers – who studied 3,739 first time mothers - found that those who started their periods early were more likely to require medical assistance during delivery, such as forceps or a Caesarean section.
The study showed that 32.4% of girls who started menstruation early - from the age of 12 onwards - required medical assistance, compared to 26.9% of girls who did not start their periods until age 15.
The average age for the start of menstruation was 13 years. Girls with a higher BMI, and girls who were short, were more likely to start their periods earlier, the researchers said.
Lead study author Professor Gordon Smith, from the university’s department of obstetrics and gynaecology, said: “This study aimed to test the prediction that earlier onset of the menstrual cycle is associated with an increased risk of this operative delivery for any given maternal age.
“The positive finding supports the theory that prolonged hormonal stimulation of the uterus prior to the first birth adversely affects the uterus in a way that predisposes it to operative delivery,” he added in the journal BJOG.