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Horm Res Paediatr. 2013;80(2):69-77. doi: 10.1159/000353759. Epub 2013 Jul 26.

Puberty in children born small for gestational age.

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  • 1Institute of Endocrinology, Medical Academy, Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, Kaunas, Lithuania.


Small for gestational age (SGA) children are more prone to have precocious pubarche and exaggerated precocious adrenarche, an earlier onset of pubertal development and menarche, and faster progression of puberty than children born of appropriate for gestational age (AGA) size. The majority of studies investigating the onset of puberty in children born SGA and AGA established that, although puberty begins at an appropriate time (based on chronological age and actual height) in SGA children, onset is earlier relative to AGA children. Evaluating pubertal growth in SGA children, a more modest bone age delay from chronological age at the onset of puberty and more rapid bone maturation during puberty compared to AGA children were reported. Peak height velocity in adolescence is reached at an earlier pubertal stage and lasts for a shorter period in children born SGA than in those born AGA. These differences lead to an earlier fusion of the growth plates and a shorter adult height. The pathophysiological mechanism underlying the unique pubertal growth pattern of children born SGA remains unclear. However, it seems that this is not only related to birth weight, gestational age, adiposity or obesity, but that there may also be an influence of rapid weight gain in early childhood on pubertal onset: excess weight gain in childhood may be related to central adiposity, decreased insulin sensitivity, and increased IGF-I levels and might thus predispose to precocious pubarche.

Copyright © 2013 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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