Prenatal androgen exposure and children’s aggressive behavior and activity level
Hormones and Behavior
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Spencer, D., Pasterski, V., Neufeld, S., Glover, V., O'Connor, T., Hindmarsh, P., Hughes, I., et al. (2017). Prenatal androgen exposure and children’s aggressive behavior and activity level. Hormones and Behavior, 96 156-165. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.09.012
Some human behaviors, including aggression and activity level, differ on average for males and females. Here we report findings from two studies investigating possible relations between prenatal androgen and children’s aggression and activity level. For study 1, aggression and activity level scores for 43 girls and 38 boys, aged 4 to 11 years, with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH, a genetic condition causing increased adrenal androgen production beginning prenatally) were compared to those of similarly-aged, unaffected relatives (41 girls, 31 boys). Girls with CAH scored higher on aggression than unaffected girls, d = 0.69, and unaffected boys scored higher on activity level than unaffected girls, d = 0.50. No other group differences were significant. For study 2, the relationship of amniotic fluid testosterone to aggression and activity level was investigated in typically-developing children (48 girls, 44 boys), aged 3 to 5 years. Boys scored higher than girls on aggression, d = 0.41, and activity level, d = 0.50. However, amniotic fluid testosterone was not a significant predictor of aggression or activity level for either sex. The results of the two studies provide some support for an influence of prenatal androgen exposure on children’s aggressive behavior, but not activity level. The within-sex variation in amniotic fluid testosterone may not be sufficient to allow reliable assessment of relations to aggression or activity level.
congenital adrenal hyperplasia, amniotic fluid testosterone, prenatal testosterone exposure, aggression, activity level
My co-authors and I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the following groups and individuals: Kristin Bergman, Pampa Sarkar, Diana Adams, and all of the mothers and children who participated in the study. Support for the research was provided by the United States Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant number HD24542 to Melissa Hines. Additional support was provided by NIH grant numbers MH073019 and MH073842 to Vivette Glover and a grant from the March of Dimes to Vivette Glover.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD024542)
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yhbeh.2017.09.012
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/271493
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