Undernutrition and pubertal timing in female survivors of medulloblastoma and other embryonal tumors

Jia Zhu, Henry A. Feldman, Christine Chordas, Ari J. Wassner, Peter E. Manley, Laurie E. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Children with brain tumors may have pubertal onset at an inappropriately young chronologic age. Hypothalamic-pituitary irradiation ≥18Gy has been found to be a risk factor; age at irradiation is associated with pubertal timing. However, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Objective: To determine the impact of body mass index (BMI) and catch-up growth on pubertal timing in females treated for medulloblastoma and other embryonal tumors. Design, Setting, and Patients: Retrospective cohort analysis of 90 female patients treated for medulloblastoma and other embryonal tumors at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Boston Children’s Hospital from 1996 to 2016. Eighteen individuals met inclusion criteria, with a mean ± SD follow-up period of 11.9 ± 3.4 years. Main Outcome Measures: Multiple linear regression models for age at pubertal onset and bone age discrepancy from chronologic age at pubertal onset assessed the joint influences of age at irradiation, hypothalamic irradiation dose, undernutrition duration, BMI standard deviation score (SDS) at pubertal onset, and catch-up BMI SDS. Results: The mean ± SD age of pubertal onset was 9.2 ± 1.3 years and hypothalamic radiation dose was 31.9 ± 9.9 Gy. There was a direct relationship between age at irradiation and age at pubertal onset (β = 0.323 ± 0.144 [standard error] year per year; P = 0.04) that was significantly attenuated after adjusting for BMI SDS at pubertal onset (P = 0.5) and catch-up BMI SDS (P = 0.08), suggesting that BMI is a mediator. Conclusions: Both absolute and catch-up BMI SDS at pubertal onset are significant mediators of pubertal timing and bone age discrepancy in pediatric medulloblastoma and other embryonal tumors, and thus, are targetable risk factors to optimize pubertal timing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Embryonal tumors
  • Irradiation
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Puberty
  • Undernutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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