Changes in human growth and development depend on genetic and environmental factors. In the case of Slovenia, the environmental factors changed as a result of the period of socio-economic transition that the country underwent between 1991 and 2013. The authors used anthropometric techniques to evaluate differences in body height, proportions and sexual maturity in 1,221 adolescents aged 14 in 1993, 2003 and 2013.
Data was collected as a part of the ACDSi study, which has monitored children’s somatic growth and motor development every decade over the last 40 years.
Between 1993 and 2013, a trend (p=0.08) towards increased body height was observed in males. The comparison of age at peak height velocity (PHV) between generations demonstrated a trend (p=0.07) of earlier entry into puberty in adolescents in 2013 compared to those in 1993. The leg-to-body height ratio increased (p<0.05) with every decade in males, while in females it decreased (p<0.05) in 2013. Similar trends were observed in the leg-to-trunk ratio. Contemporary generations experienced PHV at a younger age (p<0.05), which is true for both genders even in adolescents born no more than two decades (1993 (2013) apart. In both generations, females experienced PHV sooner than their male peers.
The authors assume that females of the 2013 generation reached puberty earlier than females of older generations. It is most likely that, unlike females from older generations and unlike males, they were already at the stage of trunk growth at the time of the measurements, which explains the observed changes in their trunk length, leg-to-body height and leg-to-trunk ratios in comparison to earlier generations.