Jean K. Elder has requested the withdrawal of her nomination to be an assistant secretary of health and human services, department sources said yesterday.

No explanation was given. Elder, who has been acting assistant secretary for human development services for the past year, could not be reached for comment.

However, her withdrawal came in the wake of charges in May by Sen. Gordon J. Humphrey (R-N.H.) that she had taken a number of official trips to areas near Albion (Mich.) College where her son Paul was playing football as a linebacker between 1983 and 1985.

Humphrey's charges were investigated by the office of HHS Inspector General Richard P. Kusserow, whose findings were made known to Elder and others in recent days.

Kusserow's office declined to make a copy of the report available.

From 1982 to 1986, Elder was commissioner on developmental disabilities of HHS under the assistant secretary for human development servies. When Assistant Secretary Dorcas R. Hardy left to head the Social Security program, Elder was named acting assistant secretary.

The president nominated her for a full appointment, subject to Senate confirmation, on Feb. 3, 1987.

Elder, who has taught at colleges in Michigan and has written many articles on developmental disabilities, reportedly met Thursday with HHS undersecretary Don Newman, who handles personnel matters.

The office of human development services has an annual budget of about $5.7 billion and jurisdiction over the Head Start program, developmental disabilities, social services, child welfare and other programs.

Elder is the third official whose use of HHS travel funds has been questioned recently. Two years ago Marjory E. Mecklenburg quit as population affairs director after investigators questioned trips she made, including one to Denver where her son was playing football for the Denver Broncos. And Betty Lou Dotson resigned this year as HHS civil-rights director during an investigation of 120 trips in this country and abroad.