No link between testosterone levels in womb and behaviour

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Doctor examining pregnant woman
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A new study from the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research shows testosterone levels in the womb have little impact on later childhood behavior.

Lead author Dr Monique Robinson said results from smaller studies had suggested high levels of testosterone may predispose children to more masculine behaviour, where low levels might predict more feminine behaviours.

“Compared to smaller studies, in this relatively large study we did not find any significant differences in behaviour as a result of differing exposure to testosterone in the womb,” said Dr Robinson.

The study comprised 430 females and 429 males from the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study where umbilical cord blood had been collected. Total testosterone concentrations were determined by mass spectrometry and bioavailable testosterone (BioT) levels were calculated.

Researchers analysed bioavailable testosterone (BioT) in maternal cord blood collected at delivery and assessed the child’s behaviour at age 2, 5, 8 and 10 years.

“We looked at an overall picture of the child’s behaviour, as well as internalising behaviours such as anxiety or depression and externalising behaviours such as aggression or delinquency,” said Dr Robinson.

“We found no effect of high or low bioavailable testosterone levels in cord blood on later child behaviour.”

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Source: Telethon Institute for Child Health Research 

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Date Created: April 21, 2013