Environmental influences on human growth and development: historical review and case study of contemporary influences

Ann Hum Biol. 2009 Sep-Oct;36(5):459-77. doi: 10.1080/03014460903067159.


Over the past 100 years, the study of environmental influences on human physical growth and development has focused on the influences of social and economic factors; family and household characteristics; urbanization/modernization; nutrition; and features of the physical environment such as altitude, temperature and climate. Continuing in this tradition are current investigations into the roles of pollutants and other aspects of the human-made environment in affecting patterns of human growth and development, specifically the timing of sexual maturation and the development of obesity. Some of the methodological problems in conducting such studies are presented, as are results from an ongoing investigation among one Native American community that show relationships of pollutants to sexual maturation, overweight/obesity and thyroid system function which can impact growth and maturation.

Publication types

  • Address

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Weight
  • Diet
  • Environment*
  • Environmental Pollutants / chemistry
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Human Development* / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual Maturation


  • Environmental Pollutants