The timing of adrenarche in Maya girls, Merida, Mexico
journal contributionposted on 09.01.2020, 11:37 by Sarai Keestra, Gillian Bentley, Alexandra Núñez-de la Mora, Lauren Houghton, Hannah Wilson, Adriana Vázquez-Vázquez, Gillian Cooper, Federico Dickinson, Paula Griffiths, Barry Bogin, Ines Varela-Silva
Adrenarche involves maturation of the hypothalamic‐pituitary‐adrenal axis and increased production of dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulfate ester, dehydroepiandrosterone‐sulfate (DHEA‐S). It occurs at ages 6 to 8 in industrialized populations, marking the transition from childhood to juvenility and cognitive development at middle childhood. Studies in subsistence level populations indicate a later age (8‐9) for adrenarche, but only two such studies currently exist for comparison.
To investigate adrenarcheal age among Maya girls and its association with body composition and dietary variables. We hypothesized adrenarche would occur earlier given the current dual burden of nutrition in Mexico.
Materials and Methods
25 Maya girls aged 7 to 9 from Merida, Mexico using ELISAs to measure salivary DHEA‐S, standard anthropometry for height, weight, and skinfolds, bioelectrical impedance for body composition variables, as well as a food frequency questionnaire for dietary information.
Our hypothesis was rejected—adrenarche occurred close to 9 years. While no measures of body composition were significantly associated with adrenarcheal status, girls eating meat and dairy products more frequently had significantly higher DHEA‐S levels.
Like other populations living in ecologically challenging environments, adrenarche occurred relatively late among Maya girls. Adrenarche has been linked to measures of body composition, particularly, the adiposity or body mass index rebound, but no relevant anthropometric measures were associated, possibly because of the small sample.
Further studies are required to illuminate how adrenarcheal variation relates to developmental plasticity, body composition, pubertal progression, and animal product consumption in other transitional populations.
Wenner-Gren Foundation, Grant #ICRG-93
Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowship
Wellcome Trust/National Institutes of Health (NIH) scholarship
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences