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Environmental Assessment

Examination of U.S. Puberty Timing Data from 1940 to 1994 for Secular Trends: Panel Findings

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Five articles based on "The Role of Environmental Factors on the Onset and Progression of Puberty" expert panel workshop findings were published as a Supplement to Pediatrics on Feb. 1, 2008. This workshop, sponsored by EPA, NIEHS, and Serono International and held in November of 2003, was the first effort to evaluate the data and come to consensus, across disciplines, perspectives, and biases, on the evidence for a secular trend in puberty timing (i.e., a change in the age of puberty over time) and the role of environmental factors in puberty timing in children. Three questions were examined: 1) Is there sufficient evidence for a secular trend from the mid- to late-1990s in puberty timing?; 2) What is the role of environmental factors in puberty timing in children? 3) What are the implications of the panel findings for children's public health protection? The set of articles review the expert panel conclusions and the state of the science on body fat, endocrine disruptors, and other environmental chemicals on puberty onset and progression from both the animal and epidemiological literature. The majority of the panelists concluded that the data suggest a trend toward an earlier puberty in girls between 1940 and 1998, based on breast development onset and menarche data, but that data for boys were inconclusive in part reflecting the small number of published studies. Two classes of environmental factors, endocrine disrupting chemicals and body fat (including factors that increase body fat), were identified as factors of concern for effects on human puberty timing. The panel agreed that altered puberty timing should be considered an adverse effect, although the magnitude of change considered adverse was not determined. Research needs regarding the relationship between environmental factors, puberty timing outcomes, and other adult disease outcomes. The articles contained in the Supplement are: Euling SY, Selevan SG, Pescovitz OH, Skakkebaek NE. The Role of Environmental Factors in the Onset and Progression of Puberty. Pediatrics 2008;121 (Suppl 3): S167-171.* Euling SY, Herman-Giddens ME, Lee PA, Selevan SG, Juul A, Sørensen TIA, Dunkel L, Himes JH, Teilmann G, Swan SH.Examination of U.S. Puberty Timing Data from 1940 to 1994 for Secular Trends: Panel Findings. Pediatrics 2008;121 (Suppl 3): S172-191.* Buck Louis GM, Gray Jr. LE, Marcus M, Ojeda S, Pescovitz OH, Witchel SF, Sippell W, Abbott DA, Soto A, Tyl RW, Bourguignon JP, Skakkebaek NE, Swan SH, Golub MS, Wabitsch M, Toppari J, Euling SY. Environmental Factors and Puberty Timing: Expert Panel Research Needs. Pediatrics 2008;121 (Suppl 3): S192-207.* Kaplowitz P. The Link between Body Fat and the Timing of Puberty. Pediatrics 2008;121 (Suppl 3): S208-S217. Golub MS, Collman GW, Foster PMD, Kimmel CA, Rajpert-DeMeyts E, Reiter EO, Sharpe RM, Skakkebaek NE, Toppari J. Public Health Implications of Altered Puberty Timing. Pediatrics 2008;121 (Suppl 3): S218-230.*

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Susan Euling
  • by phone at:   703-347-8575
  • by fax at:   703-347-8692
  • by email at:  euling.susan@epa.gov

Citation

EULING, S. AND S. G. SELEVAN. Examination of U.S. Puberty Timing Data from 1940 to 1994 for Secular Trends: Panel Findings. PEDIATRICS. American Academy of Pediatrics, Elk Grove Village, IL, 121(Supplement 3):S172-S191, (2008).

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