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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 121-126

An assessment of sexual maturation among school girls in Abakaliki Metropolis, Ebonyi State, South-East Nigeria


1 Department of Pediatrics, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Nigeria
2 Department of Pediatrics, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki; Department of Paediatrics, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Nigeria
3 Department of Paediatrics, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus; Department of Pediatrics, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Onyinye Uchenna Anyanwu
Department of Pediatrics, Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki
Nigeria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1117-1936.190348

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Background: Sexual maturation is an important milestone which starts between 8 and 14 years in girls. However, varying ages of onset of sexual maturation have been reported in different environments, with more recent studies showing earlier ages of onset in girls. There is therefore need to describe the sexual maturation of girls in each environment. Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study of 6–18-year-old school girls in Abakaliki. One thousand one hundred and fifty-five girls were selected through multi-staged sampling. They were interviewed, and sexual maturation was assessed using breast and pubic hair development. Results: Pubic hair development occurred earliest at a mean age of 9.87 ± 2.19 years. Breast development followed at a mean age of 10.53 ± 2.38 years. The mean age for menarche was 12.82 ± 1.29 years, which chronologically occurred between sexual maturity rating stages 3 and 4. Overweight/obesity was found to be correlated with an earlier age of onset of sexual maturation (P < 0.05). Participants belonging to the upper socioeconomic class also had earlier age of onset of sexual maturation (P < 0.05). Compared with earlier studies, positive secular trend for earlier maturation was found using pubic hair development, breast development and menarche as markers of onset of maturation. Conclusions/Recommendations: Against the background of the present findings of a continuing secular trend of earlier sexual maturation in Igbo girls, there is a need to provide relevant information to parents/guardians and to reduce puberty-related anxiety. This will go a long way in improving quality of parental support for adolescents during this crucial period.


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