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Intrauterine Growth Retardation and Puberty in Girls

  • Jasper J. Voordouw (a1), Mirjam M. van Weissenbruch (a2) and Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal (a3)

Abstract

Some, albeit not all studies on the relationship between intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and female pubertal development have found an earlier and rapidly progressing puberty as well as concomitant disorders of related functional systems such as polycystic ovary syndrome and short stature. These pubertal changes are part of a growing list of IUGR-related diseases, which includes non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease. A pulsatile release of gonadotropin releasing hormone is thought to be a conditio-sinne-qua-non for the initiation of puberty. In the absence of prospective studies on gonadotropin releasing hormone pulse patterns in IUGR-children other markers of pubertal development such as age at menarche have been deployed. From these studies it is not clear, however, whether the findings of an earlier onset of puberty in IUGR-girls merely reflect a more rapid progression of puberty. Both the role for IUGR and the mechanisms behind the onset of puberty are still elusive. Assuming a connection between IUGR and pubertal development, parallels can be drawn between hypotheses on the longterm consequences of IUGR and hypotheses on the initiation of puberty. For example, the somatometer concept proposes a role for fat mass in the initiation of puberty, which is compatible with the hypothesis on non-skeletal catch-up growth after IUGR. The debate on the origins of puberty and the role of IUGR mainly focuses on nature and nurture. Judgmentally, studies in mono- and dizygotic twins discordant for birth weight may be of particular help.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: Jasper J. Voordouw, Research institute for Endocrinology, Reproduction and Metabolism (EVM) and the Department of Pediatrics, Vrije Universiteit, Medisch Centrum (VUMC), P.O. Box 7057, 1007 MB Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

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Intrauterine Growth Retardation and Puberty in Girls

  • Jasper J. Voordouw (a1), Mirjam M. van Weissenbruch (a2) and Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal (a3)

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