Childhood socioeconomic position and pubertal onset in a cohort of multiethnic girls: Implications for breast cancer

Robert A. Hiatt, Susan L. Stewart, Kristin S. Hoeft, Lawrence H. Kushi, Gayle C. Windham, Frank M. Biro, Susan M. Pinney, Mary S. Wolff, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Dejana Braithwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Higher socioeconomic position (SEP) has been associated with increased risk of breast cancer. Its relationship with earlier age of pubertal onset, a risk factor for breast cancer, is less clear. Methods: We studied the relationship of SEP to pubertal onset in a multiethnic cohort of 1,237 girls ages 6 to 8 years at baseline. Girls in three U.S. cities were followed for 5 to 8 years with annual clinical examinations from 2004 to 2012. SEP measures were examined for associations with pubertal onset, assessed by breast budding (thelarche) and pubic hair development (adrenarche). Analyses were conducted with accelerated failure time models using a Weibull distribution, with left, right, and interval censoring. Results: Higher body mass index percentage at entry to the study and black or Hispanic race/ethnicity were the strongest predictors of age at pubertal onset. An SEP index comprising household family income, mother's education, and home ownership was an independent predictor of thelarche in adjusted models for all girls together and for white and Latina, separately, but not black girls, and the relationship varied by study site. The SEP index was not related to adrenarche in adjusted models. Overall, girls from the lowest quintile of SEP entered puberty on average 6% earlier than girls from the highest quintile (time ratio ¼ 0.94; 95% confidence interval 0.91–0.97) in adjusted models. Conclusions: Our results suggest that early-life SEP may influence the timing of pubertal development. Impact: Factors related to lower SEP in childhood can adversely affect early development in ways that may increase the risk of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1714-1721
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2017


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