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Horm Res. 1999;51 Suppl 3:52-4.

Mechanism of puberty.

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  • 1London Centre for Paediatric Endocrinology, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and The Middlesex Hospital, London, UK.


The hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis in children is fully functional in fetal life and immediately after birth. The reason why it declines with advancing years of childhood is not clear but gonadotropin pulsatility is at a nadir at 6 years of age. From that time pulsatile gonadotropin starts to reappear but, again, the reason why this happens is completely unknown. All of the events of puberty can be ascribed to pulsatile gonadotropin-releasing hormone stimulation causing pulsatile gonadotropin stimulation of sex steroids. The sex steroids explain the development of the pubertal characteristics; the fact that girls have an earlier growth spurt than boys is explained by the differential effect of oestradiol and testosterone on hypothalamic control of pituitary growth hormone secretion.

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