Menarche is a significant developmental event in the lives of young females. Genetic and family environmental influences on the timing of its occurrence are explored in the first formal analysis using reared-apart and reared-together monozygotic (MZA, MZT) and dizygotic (DZA, DZT) twin pairs. Mean age at menarche was 12.50 years (SD = 1.67) for the reared-apart pairs and 12.86 years (SD = 1.49) for the reared-together pairs. Intraclass correlations for age at menarche were 0.56 for MZA twins, 0.16 for DZA twins, 0.70 for MZT twins, and 0.41 for DZT twins. The mean within-pair difference was 1.07 years (SD = 1.04) for MZA twins, 1.67 years (SD = 1.59) for DZA twins, 0.64 year (SD = 0.86) for MZT twins, and 1.43 years (SD = 1.34) for DZT twins. These results are consistent with genetic influence, although the lower correlations for reared-apart twins and their larger within-pair differences suggest that age at menarche is partly affected by common rearing environments. Feeling understood by one's father during the growing-up years was significantly associated with earlier age at menarche, and a comparable trend was found for feeling understood by one's mother. These findings are considered with reference to current theories of pubertal timing.
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Vol. 79 • No. 6