Puberty presents remarkable individual differences in timing reaching over 5 years in humans. We put emphasis on the two edges of the age distribution of pubertal signs in humans and point to an extended distribution towards earliness for initial pubertal stages and towards lateness for final pubertal stages. Such distortion of distribution is a recent phenomenon. This suggests changing environmental influences including the possible role of nutrition, stress and endocrine disruptors. Our ability to assess neuroendocrine effects and mechanisms is very limited in humans. Using the rodent as a model, we examine the impact of environmental factors on the individual variations in pubertal timing and the possible underlying mechanisms. The capacity of environmental factors to shape functioning of the neuroendocrine system is thought to be maximal during fetal and early postnatal life and possibly less important when approaching the time of onset of puberty.
Keywords: Adolescence; Endocrine disruptors; Gonadotropin releasing hormone; Puberty; Secular trends.
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