Environmental toxins

Exposure to bisphenol A advances puberty

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Plastics and pesticides are examples of products that contain oestrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EEDCs, which can interfere with mammalian development by mimicking the action of the sex hormone oestradiol1. For instance, the exposure of developing rodents to high doses of EEDCs advances puberty and alters their reproductive function2. Low environmental doses of EEDCs may also affect development in humans3. Effects have become apparent in humans over the past half century that are consistent with those seen in animals after exposure to high doses of EEDCs, such as an increase in genital abnormality in boys4 and earlier sexual maturation in girls5. Here we show that exposing female mouse fetuses to an EEDC at a dose that is within the range typical of the environmental exposure of humans alters the postnatal growth rate and brings on early puberty in these mice.

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Figure 1: Mean (±s.e.m.) body weight at weaning, age at vaginal opening, and interval between vaginal opening and first vaginal oestrus.


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Correspondence to Frederick S. vom Saal.

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Howdeshell, K., Hotchkiss, A., Thayer, K. et al. Exposure to bisphenol A advances puberty. Nature 401, 763–764 (1999) doi:10.1038/44517

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