Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: February 2010

9 - Environmental contaminants and effects on timing and progression of human pubertal development


This is the introductory chapter of the book, which provides a review of the science in key areas of the relationship between environmental contaminants and reproductive and developmental health for students and practitioners in the fields of public health, environmental health and research, and medical and allied health professional training. Environmental reproductive health focuses on exposures to environmental contaminants, and their potential effects on all aspects of future reproductive health throughout the life course, including conception, fertility, pregnancy, child and adolescent development, and adult health. The book focuses on the role of/implications for/potential effects of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and subsequent reproductive and developmental outcomes. It brings together the core environmental health sciences that form a foundation of information from which to join with other disciplines and partners in related health, social, community, legal, and policy fields to explain the relationship between environmental contaminants and reproductive and developmental health.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO


1. ChellakootyM, SchmidtIM, HaavistoAM. et al. Inhibin A, inhibin B, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, estradiol, and sex hormone-binding globulin levels in 473 healthy infant girls. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2003; 88: 3515–20.
2. AksglaedeL, JuulA, LeffersH, SkakkebaekNE, AnderssonAM. The sensitivity of the child to sex steroids: possible impact of exogenous estrogens. Hum Reprod Update 2006; 12: 341–9.
3. MarshallWA, TannerJM. Variations in pattern of pubertal changes in girls. Arch Dis Child 1969; 44: 291–303.
4. MarshallWA, TannerJM. Variations in the pattern of pubertal changes in boys. Arch Dis Child 1970; 45: 13–23.
5. ParentAS, TeilmannG, JuulA. et al. The timing of normal puberty and the age limits of sexual precocity: variations around the world, secular trends, and changes after migration. Endocr Rev 2003; 24: 668–93.
6. AdairL S, Gordon-LarsenP. Maturational timing and overweight prevalence in US adolescent girls. Am J Public Health 2001; 91: 642–4.
7. HeQ, KarlbergJ.BMI in childhood and its association with height gain, timing of puberty, and final height. Pediatr Res 2001; 49: 244–51.
8. FreedmanDS, KhanLK, SerdulaMK. et al. Relation of age at menarche to race, time period, and anthropometric dimensions: the Bogalusa Heart Study. Pediatrics 2002; 110: e43.
9. JuulA, MagnusdottirS, ScheikeT, PrytzS, SkakkebaekNE. Age at voice break in Danish boys: effects of pre-pubertal body mass index and secular trend. Int J Androl 2007; 30: 537–42.
10. AndersonSE, DallalGE, MustA.Relative weight and race influence average age at menarche: results from two nationally representative surveys of US girls studied 25 years apart. Pediatrics 2003; 111: 844–50.
11. KirkKM, BlombergSP, DuffyDL. et al. Natural selection and quantitative genetics of life-history traits in Western women: a twin study. Evolution 2001; 55: 423–35.
12. SeminaraSB, MessagerS, ChatzidakiEE. et al. The GPR54 gene as a regulator of puberty. New Engl J Med 2003; 349: 1614–27.
13. TelesMG, BiancoSD, BritoVN. et al. A GPR54-activating mutation in a patient with central precocious puberty. New Engl J Med 2008; 358: 709–15.
14. LuanX, ZhouY, WangW. et al. Association study of the polymorphisms in the KISS1 gene with central precocious puberty in Chinese girls. Eur J Endocrinol 2007; 157: 113–18.
15. ReynoldsEL, WinesJV. Individual differences in physical changes associated with adolescence in girls. Am J Dis Child 1948; 75: 329–50.
16. GuoY, ShenH, XiaoP. et al. Genomewide linkage scan for quantitative trait loci underlying variation in age at menarche. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2006; 91: 1009–14.
17. ZachariasL, WurtmanRJ. Age at menarche. Genetic and environmental influences. New Engl J Med 1969; 280: 868–75.
18. WyshakG, FrischRE. Evidence for a secular trend in age of menarche. New Engl J Med 1982; 306: 1033–5.
19. Herman-GiddensME, SloraEJ, WassermanRC. et al. Secondary sexual characteristics and menses in young girls seen in office practice: a study from the Pediatric Research in Office Settings network. Pediatrics 1997; 99: 505–12.
20. NicolsonAB, HanleyC. Indices of physiological maturity: derivation and interrelationships. Child Dev 1953; 24: 3–38.
21. LeePA. Normal ages of pubertal events among American males and females. J Adolesc Health Care 1980; 1: 26–9.
22. SunSS, SchubertCM, ChumleaWC. et al. National estimates of the timing of sexual maturation and racial differences among US children. Pediatrics 2002; 110: 911–19.
23. ChumleaWC, SchubertCM, RocheAF. et al. Age at menarche and racial comparisons in US girls. Pediatrics 2003; 111: 110–13.
24. WuT, BuckGM, MendolaP. Blood lead levels and sexual maturation in U.S. girls: the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–1994. Environ Health Perspect 2003; 111: 737–41.
25. EulingSY, Herman-GiddensME, LeePA. et al. Examination of US puberty-timing data from 1940 to 1994 for secular trends: panel findings. Pediatrics 2008; 121 (Suppl. 3): S172–91.
26. EulingSY, SelevanSG, PescovitzOH, SkakkebaekNE. Role of environmental factors in the timing of puberty. Pediatrics 2008; 121 (Suppl. 3): S167–71.
27. BuckLouis GM, GrayLE Jr., MarcusM. et al. Environmental factors and puberty timing: expert panel research needs. Pediatrics 2008; 121 (Suppl. 3): S192–207.
28. Helm, P., HelmS. Decrease in menarcheal age from 1966 to 1983 in Denmark. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1984; 63: 633–5.
29. HelmP. GrolundL. A halt in the secular trend towards earlier menarche in Denmark. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 1998; 77: 198–200.
30. OlesenAW, JeuneB, BoldsenJL. A continuous decline in menarcheal age in Denmark. Ann Hum Biol 2000; 27: 377–86.
31. JuulA, TeilmannG, ScheikeT. et al. Pubertal development in Danish children: comparison of recent European and US data. Int J Androl 2006; 29: 247–55.
32. AndersenE. Skeletal maturation of Danish school children in relation to height, sexual development, and social conditions. Acta Paediatr Scand 1968; Suppl.
33. ThamdrupE. Precocious sexual development. A clinical study of 100 children. Doctoral thesis, 1961.
34. TeilmannG, PedersenCB, JensenTK, SkakkebaekNE, JuulA. Prevalence and incidence of precocious pubertal development in Denmark: an epidemiologic study based on national registries. Pediatrics 2002; 116: 1323–8.
35. ScaglioniS, Di PietroC, BigatelloA, ChiumelloG. Breast enlargement at an Italian school. Lancet 1978; 1: 551–2.
36. FaraGM, Del CorvoG, BernuzziS. et al. Epidemic of breast enlargement in an Italian school. Lancet 1979; 2: 295–7.
37. LoizzoA, GattiGL, MacriA. et al. Italian baby food containing diethylstilbestrol: three years later. Lancet 1984; 1: 1014–15.
38. KimballAM, HamadehR, MahmoodRA. et al. Gynaecomastia among children in Bahrain. Lancet 1981; 1: 671–2.
39. HenleyDV, LipsonN, KorachKS, BlochCA. Prepubertal gynecomastia linked to lavender and tea tree oils. New Engl J Med 2007; 356: 479–85.
40. GuilletteEA, ConardC, LaresF. et al. Altered breast development in young girls from an agricultural environment. Environ Health Perspect, 114, 471–5.
41. MassartF, SeppiaP, PardiD. et al. High incidence of central precocious puberty in a bounded geographic area of northwest Tuscany: an estrogen disrupter epidemic?Gynecol Endocrinol 2005; 20: 92–8.
42. MassartF, MeucciV, SaggeseG, SoldaniG. High growth rate of girls with precocious puberty exposed to estrogenic mycotoxins. J Pediatr 2008; 152: 690–5.
43. BlanckHM, MarcusM, TolbertPE. et al. Age at menarche and tanner stage in girls exposed in utero and postnatally to polybrominated biphenyl. Epidemiology 2000; 11: 641–7.
44. MolNM, SorensenN, WeiheP. et al. Spermaturia and serum hormone concentrations at the age of puberty in boys prenatally exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls. Eur J Endocrinol 2002; 146: 357–63.
45. LeijsMM, KoppeJG, OlieK. et al. Delayed initiation of breast development in girls with higher prenatal dioxin exposure; a longitudinal cohort study. Chemosphere 2008; 73: 999–1004.
46. SelevanSG, RiceDC, HoganKA. et al. Blood lead concentration and delayed puberty in girls. New Engl J Med 2003; 348: 1527–36.
47. HauserR, SergeyevO, KorrickS. et al. Association of blood lead levels with onset of puberty in Russian boys. Environ Health Perspect 2008; 116: 976–80.
48. GladenBC, RaganNB, RoganWJ. Pubertal growth and development and prenatal and lactational exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dichlorodiphenyl dichloroethene. J Pediatr, 2000; 136: 490–6.
49. VasiliuO, MuttineniJ, KarmausW. In utero exposure to organochlorines and age at menarche. Hum Reprod 2004; 19: 1506–12.
50. Krstevska-KonstantinovaM, CharlierC, CraenM. et al. Sexual precocity after immigration from developing countries to Belgium: evidence of previous exposure to organochlorine pesticides. Hum Reprod 2001; 16: 1020–6.
51. OuyangF, PerryMJ, VennersSA. et al. Serum DDT, age at menarche, and abnormal menstrual cycle length. Occup Environ Med 2005; 62: 878–84.
52. DenhamM., SchellLM, DeaneG. et al. Relationship of lead, mercury, mirex, dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene, hexachlorobenzene, and polychlorinated biphenyls to timing of menarche among Akwesasne Mohawk girls. Pediatrics 2005; 115: e127–34.
53. ColonI, CaroD, BourdonyCJ, RosarioO. Identification of phthalate esters in the serum of young Puerto Rican girls with premature breast development. Environ Health Perspect 2000; 108: 895–900.
54. McKeeRH. Phthalate exposure and early thelarche. Environ Health Perspect 2004; 112: A541–3.
55. QiaoL, ZhengL, CaiD. [Study on the di-n-butyl phthalate and di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate level of girl serum related with precocious puberty in Shanghai]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu 2007; 36: 93–5.
56. CrainDA, JanssenSJ, EdwardsTM. et al. Female reproductive disorders: the roles of endocrine-disrupting compounds and developmental timing. Fertil Steril 2008; 90: 911–40.
57. DenHond E, RoelsHA, HoppenbrouwersK. et al. Sexual maturation in relation to polychlorinated aromatic hydrocarbons: Sharpe and Skakkebaek's hypothesis revisited. Environ Health Perspect 2002; 110: 771–6.
58. GuoYL, LambertGH, HsuCC, HsuMM. Yucheng: health effects of prenatal exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls and dibenzofurans. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2004; 77: 153–8.
59. WolffMS, BrittonJA, BoguskiL. et al. Environmental exposures and puberty in inner-city girls. Environ Res 2008; 107: 393–400.
60. WarnerM, SamuelsS, MocarelliP. et al. Serum dioxin concentrations and age at menarche. Environ Health Perspect 2004; 112: 1289–92.
61. SaiyedH, DewanA, BhatnagarV. et al. Effect of endosulfan on male reproductive development. Environ Health Perspect 2003; 111: 1958–62.