Recent studies indicate that the onset of puberty is occurring at increasingly younger ages. Many etiologies have been hypothesized to be involved, but environmental exposures are among the most worrisome. Multiple organizations have endorsed the need to study and provide clinical awareness regarding the effect of a child's environment on pubertal timing. This review article summarizes the current understanding of the major environmental influences on pubertal timing, focusing on factors for which the most scientific evidence exists. The research reviewed addresses intrinsic factors unique to each individual, naturally occurring endocrine disruptors and chemical endocrine disruptors. In each category, evidence was found for and against the involvement of specific environmental factors on pubertal timing. Ultimately, an individual's environment is likely comprised of many aspects that collectively contribute to the timing of puberty. The need for research aimed at elucidating the effects of numerous specific yet disparate forms of exposures is emphasized.
Keywords: Bisphenol-A; Endocrine disrupting chemicals; Pesticides; Phthalates; Phytoestrogens; Puberty timing.
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