Historical perspectives: Endocrine disruptors and the timing of puberty

Todd D. Nebesio, Ora Hirsch Pescovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Recent studies have suggested that the age of pubertal onset in children is occurring earlier than previously reported. The precise trigger for the onset of puberty is not known, but it is believed to be a complex interaction between genetics, hormones, and environmental influences. Endocrine disruptors are environmental factors that have been implicated in causing early pubertal maturation. Industrial chemicals, phytoestrogens, estrogen-containing cosmetics, and pesticides are examples of potential endocrine disruptors that have been proposed to play a role in altering the onset and timing of puberty. Many of these endocrine disruptors have been shown to cause reproductive and developmental abnormalities in animals; however, for the most part, the data supporting a role for these products in disturbing the timing of puberty in humans are mostly speculative. We review the putative endocrine disruptors that have been implicated in altering the age of normal puberty, including reports that suggest a link between environmental exposures and an alteration in pubertal onset and a review of historical epidemics of premature sexual development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-48
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005


  • Endocrine disruptors
  • Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Precocious puberty
  • Premature thelarche

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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