The production of gonadal steroids in the perinatal period may have an important influence on the later development of the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis. In the prepubertal period there is an increased output of gonadal steroids and of androgens from the adrenal cortex, with a further increase as the secondary sex characters develop. The precise role of individual steroids in the maturation of the reproductive system and of the neuroendocrine regulating mechanisms will probably remain unclear unless conclusions are based on longitudinal studies in which hormone production is related precisely to different parameters of sexual development and somatic growth.
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