Evolution, development and timing of puberty

Gluckman, Peter D. and Hanson, Mark A. (2006) Evolution, development and timing of puberty. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 17, (1), 7-12. (doi:10.1016/j.tem.2005.11.006).


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The age of menarche has fallen as child health has improved. Although there is ample evidence of delayed puberty being associated with poorer childhood nutrition, menarche is also influenced by prenatal factors. In particular, early onset of puberty is reported in children who have migrated from developing to developed countries. Evolutionary perspectives suggest that these effects can be explained by adaptive mechanisms. They also provide an explanation for the human pubertal growth spurt. In the past few decades, as puberty has advanced, biological maturation has come to precede psychosocial maturation significantly for the first time in our evolutionary history Although this developmental mismatch has considerable societal implications, care has to be taken not to medicalize contemporary early puberty inappropriately.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.tem.2005.11.006
ISSNs: 1043-2760 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: female, child, childhood, animals, review, puberty, human, physiology, genetics, time, menarche, development, adolescent, health, evolution, research, child development, humans, nutrition, growth
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Medicine
ePrint ID: 61146
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
January 2006Published
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:44
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/61146

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