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J Adolesc Health. 2002 Dec;31(6 Suppl):192-200.

Growth at puberty.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.


Somatic growth and maturation are influenced by a number of factors that act independently or in concert to modify an individual's genetic potential. The secular trend in height and adolescent development is further evidence for the significant influence of environmental factors on an individual's genetic potential for linear growth. Nutrition, including energy and specific nutrient intake, is a major determinant of growth. Paramount to normal growth is the general health and well-being of an individual; in fact, normal growth is a strong testament to the overall good health of a child. More recently the effect of physical activity and fitness on linear growth, especially among teenage athletes, has become a topic of interest. Puberty is a dynamic period of development marked by rapid changes in body size, shape, and composition, all of which are sexually dimorphic. One of the hallmarks of puberty is the adolescent growth spurt. Body compositional changes, including the regional distribution of body fat, are especially large during the pubertal transition and markedly sexually dimorphic. The hormonal regulation of the growth spurt and the alterations in body composition depend on the release of the gonadotropins, leptin, the sex-steroids, and growth hormone. It is very likely that interactions among these hormonal axes are more important than their main effects, and that alterations in body composition and the regional distribution of body fat actually are signals to alter the neuroendocrine and peripheral hormone axes. These processes are merely magnified during pubertal development but likely are pivotal all along the way from fetal growth to the aging process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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