Age at natural menopause and cognition

Lawrence Jeffrey Whalley, Helen Catherine Fox, I. J. Deary

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    Objectives: To examine associations between age at natural menopause, childhood IQ and cognition at age 65 years. To determine if lower age at menopause partly mediates the effect of childhood IQ on cognition at age 65 years. Methods: Data were provided by a sub-cohort of women participating in a longitudinal study of brain ageing and health. Main variables were childhood IQ from a 1947 national survey of children born in 1936, age at natural menopause and five cognitive tests measured in 2000-2001. Results: Age at menopause was associated with childhood IQ (r = 0.221, P = 0.008) and with general cognitive function age 65 years (r = 0.246, P = 0.004). Multiple regression showed 44.4% of the reliable variance in cognitive ability age 65 years is contributed by IQ at an age of 11 years to which, years of education contributed an additional 3.9%. Structural equation modelling suggested that childhood IQ differences contribute 4.8% of the variance to age at natural menopause and that the relation between age at menopause and cognition at age 65 years was accounted for by childhood IQ. Conclusion: Childhood IQ and age at menopause each have significant relations with general cognitive function age 65 years but the link between cognition age 65 years and age at menopause might be wholly explained by childhood IQ. The association between childhood IQ and age at menopause may be attributed to central neural mechanisms or, as argued here, to the effects of childhood IQ on adult general health. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)148-156
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • childhood intelligence
    • cognitive function
    • ageing
    • follow-up study
    • natural menopause
    • structural equational modelling
    • IN-UTERO
    • RISK
    • HEALTH

    Cite this

    Whalley, L. J., Fox, H. C., & Deary, I. J. (2004). Age at natural menopause and cognition. Maturitas, 49, 148-156.