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Endocr Dev. 2016;29:174-84. doi: 10.1159/000438885. Epub 2015 Dec 17.

Current Changes in Pubertal Timing: Revised Vision in Relation with Environmental Factors Including Endocrine Disruptors.


The aim of this chapter is to revise some common views on changes in pubertal timing. This revision is based on recent epidemiological findings on the clinical indicators of pubertal timing and data on environmental factor effects and underlying mechanisms. A current advancement in timing of female puberty is usually emphasized. It appears, however, that timing is also changing in males. Moreover, the changes are towards earliness for initial pubertal stages and towards lateness for final stages in both sexes. Such observations indicate the complexity of environmental influences on pubertal timing. The mechanisms of changes in pubertal timing may involve both the central neuroendocrine control and peripheral effects at tissues targeted by gonadal steroids. While sufficient energy availability is a clue to the mechanism of pubertal development, changes in the control of both energy balance and reproduction may vary under the influence of common determinants such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These effects can take place right before puberty as well as much earlier, during fetal and neonatal life. Finally, environmental factors can interact with genetic factors in determining changes in pubertal timing. Therefore, the variance in pubertal timing is no longer to be considered under absolutely separate control by environmental and genetic determinants. Some recommendations are provided for evaluation of EDC impact in the management of pubertal disorders and for possible reduction of EDC exposure along the precautionary principle.

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