Hormone Measures

Pubertal development can also be assessed via measuring hormonal biomarkers. As explained in the previous section, a major hormone involved in the regulation of puberty is GnRH. However, it is difficult to measure GnRH because it has a short half-life and is transported directly to the pituitary (Rockett, Lynch, & Buck, 2004). Therefore, pubertal development is most often measured through hormones regulated directly or indirectly by GnRH, including the gonadotropins (LH, FSH) and sex steroid hormones (testosterone and estrogen). Methods for measuring these hormones include blood draws, salivary collection, blood spots, and urinary collection.

Compared to blood draws, advantages of salivary and urinary assessments are that they are noninvasive, painless, and highly acceptable to most research participants. Drawbacks are that salivary and urinary studies provide limited estimates of total output by peripheral glands and preclude evaluation of central neuroendocrine regulation. Also, there are technical demands on salivary and urinary assays for steroids of low concentrations (e.g., estradiol), which may prevent their use in some developmental studies. Advantages of blood spots are that they are minimally invasive and require very little blood, they allow for multiple collections so that mean hormone concentrations can be measured, few factors compromise validity of blood spot samples for analysis, and assays for blood are more sensitive than the assays for urine or saliva (Worthman & Stallings, 1997).

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Joy Of Modern Parenting Collection

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