Early developers at greater risk of diabetes and heart disease while late developers more prone to asthma – according to Cambridge University study.
The age that children hit puberty has been found to be a significant predictor of their health in later life – researchers say.
The University of Cambridge study confirms previous findings of a link between early puberty in women and heart disease and type 2 diabetes – and has shown for the first time that early puberty in men is also associated with these conditions.
Those who went through puberty relatively early had around 50% higher relative risks for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. However women and men who went through puberty relatively late had a higher relative risk of developing asthma.
Researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge found that the age at which both men and women begin puberty is associated with a total of 48 different health conditions including irritable bowel syndrome – arthritis – glaucoma – psoriasis – and depression – along with early menopause in women.
They analysed the data of nearly half a million people whose details are compiled by UK Biobank, a national study for health research funded by the MRC and the Wellcome Trust – with participants asked when they remember puberty starting – the age of their first monthly period for women and when their voice broke in men.
Most girls begin puberty at eight to 14 years of age – with 11 the average age according to the NHS.