, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 633-642

US assessment of estrogen-responsive organ growth among healthy term infants: piloting methods for assessing estrogenic activity

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Abstract

Background

A mother’s circulating estrogen increases over the third trimester, producing physiological effects on her newborn that wane postnatally. Estrogenization might be prolonged in newborns exposed to exogenous estrogens, such as isoflavones in soy formula.

Objective

We evaluated ultrasonography for monitoring growth of multiple estrogen-responsive organs in healthy infants and developed organ-growth trajectories.

Materials and methods

We studied 38 boys (61 visits) from birth to age 6 months and 41 girls (96 visits) from birth to age 1 year using a partly cross-sectional, partly longitudinal design. We measured uterus and ovaries in girls, testes and prostate in boys, and kidneys, breasts, thymus, and thyroid in all children. We imaged all organs from the body surface in one session of < 1 h.

Results

Uterine volume decreased from birth (P < 0.0001), whereas ovarian volume increased sharply until age 2 months and then decreased (P < 0.001). Testicular volume increased with age (P < 0.0001), but prostatic volume showed minimal age trend. Breast bud diameter showed no age trend in girls but declined from birth in boys (P = 0.03).

Conclusion

US examination of multiple estrogen-responsive organs in infants in a single session is feasible and yields volume estimates useful for assessing potential endocrine disruptor effects on organ growth.