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

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2010

Tracey J. Woodruff
Affiliation:
University of California, San Francisco
Sarah J. Janssen
Affiliation:
University of California, San Francisco
Louis J. Guillette, Jr
Affiliation:
University of Florida
Linda C. Giudice
Affiliation:
University of California, San Francisco
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Summary

Pubertal development is initiated by activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. Activation of the HPG axis is caused by changes in levels of neurotransmitters such as an increase in glutamate stimulation and a decrease in GABA inhibition of these groups of neurons. Late pubertal phenomena in boys include the pubertal growth spurt and age at voice break. In humans, a striking variability in the timing of puberty is observed among children despite relatively similar life conditions. This variability is dependent on environmental as well as genetic factors. Certainly fat mass plays an important role for timing of puberty. Exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) from the environment could be a candidate factor. Exposure to lead has been associated with delayed puberty in girls. Despite numerous experimental studies showing the influence of endocrine disrupters on pubertal maturation, limited data exist in humans.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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