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Horm Res Paediatr. 2016;86(4):233-239. Epub 2016 Apr 2.

Serum Levels of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Girls with Premature Thelarche.

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Department of Pediatrics (DPUO), 'Bambino Gesù' Children's Hospital, 'Tor Vergata' University, Rome, Italy.



Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are widely used as flame retardants and have shown endocrine disruption properties in experimental studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between the exposure to PBDEs and alterations of puberty in girls referred for idiopathic central precocious puberty (ICPP) and premature thelarche (PT).


A case-control study was conducted in 124 girls: 37 girls with ICPP (mean age 7.4 ± 0.9 years), 56 with PT (mean age 5.7 ± 2.1 years) and 31 controls (mean age 5.4 ± 1.9 years). PBDE serum concentrations, hormone levels and anthropometry were assessed. PBDE concentrations were corrected for total serum lipid content. Individual exposure to PBDEs was evaluated through ad hoc questionnaires.


PBDE serum concentrations corrected for total lipid content were significantly higher in girls with PT (mean 1.49 ± 0.63 log ng/g) than in controls (mean 1.23 ± 0.54 log ng/g; p < 0.05). PT girls showed higher levels of PBDE than ICPP girls (1.49 ± 0.63 vs. 1.37 ± 0.49 log ng/g), though this was not significant. An analysis of the questionnaires revealed no significant differences in exposure between the three groups.


Our findings suggest that higher concentrations of serum PBDEs are associated with PT in girls.

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