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Environmental Sciences

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Natalie D. Shaw

Institut Pasteur de Bangui


Natalie Shaw, M.D., MMSc., heads the Pediatric Neuroendocrinology Group and holds a secondary appointment in NIEHS Reproductive and Developmental Biology Laboratory. The Pediatric Neuroendocrinology Group has three major research foci:To investigate the contributions of body weight, abnormal sleep patterns, and other environmental factors to irregular menstrual cycles in adolescent girls during the first few years after menarche (a girl's first period). While irregular menstrual cycles are a common part of female development, a subset of teens never make the critical transition to normal menstrual cycles. By investigating the physiologic and pathophysiologic underpinnings of irregular menstrual cycles in adolescent girls in the 1-2 years after their first menses, the Pediatric Neuroendocrinology Group intends to identify those girls who are at high-risk for reproductive dysfunction as adults. Girls with pathologic menstrual cycle patterns would then be encouraged to seek early treatment to prevent future hormonal and metabolic complications. To determine the influence of obesity on pubertal timing in girls. Over the past decade, there has been an alarming trend toward earlier breast development in girls. The contemporaneous obesity epidemic has led to speculation that obesity may be driving early puberty. However, questions remain about the validity of reports of early puberty among obese girls due to the difficulty in distinguishing fatty tissue from breast tissue by palpation in this population. The physiological basis for early puberty among obese girls is also unknown.

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