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Clin Chem Lab Med. 2002 Nov;40(11):1151-60.

Reference ranges for serum concentrations of lutropin (LH), follitropin (FSH), estradiol (E2), prolactin, progesterone, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), cortisol and ferritin in neonates, children and young adults.

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University Children's Hospital, Paediatric Endocrinology Section, Tuebingen, Germany.


The aim of this study was to establish reference ranges for children (neonates to young adults), for serum lutropin (LH), follitropin (FSH), estradiol (E2), progesterone, prolactin, sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS), cortisol and ferritin, using the nonisotopic, automated chemiluminescence immunoassay system, Immulite (DPC). Serum samples from 762 children (369 female; age 1 day to 19 years) were examined. Of these, 381 were classified as pubertal. Due to non-normal distribution, the 2.5th, 50th and 97.5th percentiles (central 95% interval) were calculated for each group. Statistical differences between the reference ranges were analyzed with respect to age, sex and the stage of sexual maturation. The median concentrations of E2, prolactin, progesterone, DHEAS, cortisol and ferritin were higher during the first 2 weeks post-partum than thereafter. The largest difference was seen with prolactin, which showed up to 27-fold higher values during this period. In contrast, before the onset of puberty, hardly any sex difference was observed and all analyte concentrations remained relatively constant, apart from SHBG which increased steadily after the neonatal period. The increase of gonadal activity in females with the onset of sexual maturation included an increase in LH and FSH, which was accompanied by a strong increase in E2, progesterone and prolactin. Cortisol increased to a lesser extent during puberty. In males, the increase in the median concentrations of the hormones was smaller, except for DHEAS. The concentration of ferritin was high in the neonatal period but did not change during sexual maturation. Our findings agree with earlier studies. The calculated reference intervals can be used to assess the development of children, particularly for measurements performed by the Immulite and Immulite 2000 chemiluminescence assay systems.

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