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Prenatal androgen exposure and children's gender-typed behavior and toy and playmate preferences.

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Pasterski, Vickie 
Neufeld, Sharon AS 
Glover, Vivette 
O'Connor, Thomas G 


We report findings from two studies investigating possible relations of prenatal androgen exposure to a broad measure of children's gender-typed behavior, as well as specifically to children's toy and playmate preferences. Study 1 investigated these outcomes 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) compared to similarly-aged, unaffected relatives (41 girls, 31 boys). The predicted sex differences were found for all of the outcome measures. Furthermore, girls with CAH showed increased male-typical and decreased female-typical behavior and toy and playmate preferences compared to unaffected girls. Study 2 investigated the relationship of amniotic fluid testosterone to gender-typed behavior and toy and playmate preferences in typically developing children (48 girls, 44 boys) aged 3 to 5 years. Although the predicted sex differences were found for all of the outcome measures, amniotic fluid testosterone was not a significant correlate, in the predicted direction, of any outcome measure for either sex. The results of study 1 provide additional support for an influence of prenatal androgen exposure on children's gender-typed behavior, including toy and playmate preferences. The results of study 2 do not, but amniotic fluid testosterone may be an insufficiently sensitive measure of early androgen exposure. A more sensitive and reliable measure of prenatal androgen exposure may be needed to consistently detect relations to later gender typed behavior in non-clinical populations.



Amniotic fluid testosterone, Androgen, Congenital adrenal hyperplasia, Gender-typed play behavior, Playmate preferences, Prenatal testosterone exposure, Sex differences, Toy preferences, Adrenal Hyperplasia, Congenital, Amniotic Fluid, Androgens, Case-Control Studies, Child, Child, Preschool, Choice Behavior, Female, Friends, Gender Identity, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Male, Play and Playthings, Pregnancy, Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects, Sex Characteristics, Testosterone

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Horm Behav

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Elsevier BV


All rights reserved
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD024542)
This work was supported by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, United States Public Health Service National Institutes of Health grant numbers HD24542, MH073019 and MH073842, and the March of Dimes.