The timing of puberty is complex, possibly involving many genetic factors that may interact with environmental influences. Familial resemblance for age at menarche was studied in a sample of 4,995 female twins, 1,296 sisters, 2,946 mothers and 635 female spouses of male twins. They had indicated their age at menarche as part of a larger longitudinal survey. We assessed assortative mating for age at menarche, gene-environment interaction effects and estimated the heritability of individual differences in pubertal timing. There was significant evidence of gene-environment interaction, accounting for 1.5% of the variance. There was no indication of consistent mate assortment on age at menarche. Individual differences in age at menarche are highly heritable, with additive genetic factors explaining at least 70% of the true variation. An additional 1.5% of the variation can be explained by a genotype-environment interaction effect where environmental factors are more important in individuals genetically predisposed for late menarche. © 2007 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
- Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)