Am J Phys Anthropol 2016 10 17;161(2):367-73. Epub 2016 Jun 17.
UMR 5199 PACEA, CNRS, University of Bordeaux, Bâtiment B8, Allée Geoffroy Saint Hilaire-CS 50023-F-33400, Talence, France.
Menarche is an indicator frequently used to study variation in growth, development, and related health conditions among members of living populations. As a life event, menarche is often associated with changes in an individual's social identity. The reproductive lifespan, which for females starts with menarche, is a paramount feature of palaeodemographic studies. Determination of menarche status from the skeletal remains of individuals of past populations can be obtained by assessing the developmental status of the iliac crest, as well as the hand and wrist bones, which are, unlike teeth, often poorly recovered in bioarchaeological contexts. The present study seeks to evaluate the link between dental mineralization and menarche in a population of known menarche status. The relationship between permanent teeth mineralization and menarche status was investigated by using data of developing permanent teeth (167 radiographs) rated in accordance with the well-known standards of Demirjian et al. and Moorrees et al. collected among 73 living French females of known menarcheal status. Using correlation ratios, GLMM and CART algorithm, menarcheal status is correlated with mineralization of the premolars. Menarcheal status is predicted correctly for 92 and 77% of radiographs of the learning and validation samples, respectively. Although promising, the results require caution prior to generalization to other populations. The age of menarche in this particular sample may simply coincide with the development of the premolars in this particular sample. Therefore, further investigation applied to populations with various mean ages of menarche is required in order to provide new evidence of variation in human growth and development from the correspondence between the mineralization of the permanent teeth and menarche.