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Abnormalities in puberty: scientific and clinical advances
  1. A Kelly

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Edited by H A Delemarre-van de Waal. Karger, 2005, €117.00 (hardback), pp 182. ISBN 3 8055 7867 9

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This book is described in the foreword as being of interest to paediatric and adult endocrinologists as well as workers involved with puberty. It is one of a series of books on endocrine development and has a strongly European dominated authorship.

The book is set out in 11 chapters which read like scientific papers, have useful explanatory abstracts, and are extensively referenced. A broad range of topics pertaining to puberty are covered, including the potential effects of fetal nutritional status on the timing of puberty, and adolescent topics such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and fertility preservation in cancer sufferers. The chapters are stand-alone articles and the reader is likely to pick and choose specific areas of interest rather than reading from cover to cover.

The chapters themselves vary from discussion of theoretical ideas about mechanisms of pubertal abnormalities to evidence based summaries of management of conditions, and presentation of trial data. The subject matter is generally well explained, even for the non-endocrinologist, but is quite scientific and specialised and the main appeal will be for those working within the field. Although background information is given as a reminder of pathophysiology which sets the scene for the new information presented, this is not an easy read and demands full concentration. Perhaps a summary of the points raised would have helped those with shorter attention spans and a desire for easily processed information. However, some relief from the text is provided in the way of data tables and graphs, and there are informative illustrative diagrams of receptors and hormone pathways, as well as clinical radiological images, such as MRI scan pictures of hypothalamic hamartomas.

Overall this book provides new insights into a variety of current topics in pubertal development and will no doubt assist in stimulating further developments in the field. There are interesting nuggets of information such as developments in the understanding of the genetics of hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism and some practical information on the diagnosis and management of precocious puberty; however, those revising for examinations or looking to broaden their knowledge of pubertal problems may wish to consult a more standard textbook first.

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