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Putative effects of endocrine disrupters on pubertal development in the human.

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Department of Growth and Reproduction, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, Denmark.


Pubertal development is regulated by gonadotrophins and sex hormones. There has been a clear secular trend in the timing of puberty during the last century, puberty becoming earlier. Although improved nutrition is assumed to be the cause, this could partly be associated with exposure to so-called endocrine disrupters. Precocious puberty has been described in several case reports of accidental exposure to oestrogenic compounds in cosmetic products, food and pharmaceuticals. Local epidemics of premature thelarche have also been suggested to be linked to endocrine disrupters. Children adopted from developing countries to industrialized countries often develop precocious puberty. Not only precocious puberty, but also delayed puberty can, theoretically, be associated with exposure to endocrine disrupters. While it is very plausible that endocrine disrupters may disturb pubertal development, there is very little research on this and, therefore, we do not yet have any clear cause-effect relationships in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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