NICHD research efforts related to precocious and delayed puberty address these conditions specifically as well as more general aspects of puberty onset and sexual maturation in the context of improving children's health. Studies include efforts in the following areas:
- Etiology of precocious puberty. NICHD researchers explore the molecular and genetic pathways by which normal puberty and abnormal puberty take place. These researchers seek to understand the molecular mechanisms of activation, signaling, and function of the neuroendocrine chemical cascade that occurs in puberty.
- Diagnosis of pubertal problems. Research aids the development of chemical assay techniques that could definitively determine the onset of puberty and helps create new imaging techniques or refine old ones to detect abnormalities in internal organs.
- Treatments for precocious puberty. Basic and translational research contributes to developing strategies for treating problems of puberty.
- Clinical trials in precocious puberty. One area of clinical research is endocrine and genetic pediatric disorders associated with the predisposition to endocrine and other tumors. Researchers also study abnormal fetal and infant development that may affect the pituitary gland, adrenal glands, and related organs.
- Training of researchers. Comprehensive training in clinical patient management and guidance in the development of research skills are also priorities of the NICHD.