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Fetal Testosterone Predicts Sexually Differentiated Childhood Behavior in Girls and in Boys

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Mammals, including humans, show sex differences in juvenile play behavior. In rodents and nonhuman primates, these behavioral sex differences result, in part, from sex differences in androgens during early development. Girls exposed to high levels of androgen prenatally, because of the genetic disorder congenital adrenal hyperplasia, show increased male-typical play, suggesting similar hormonal influences on human development, at least in females. Here, we report that fetal testosterone measured from amniotic fluid relates positively to male-typical scores on a standardized questionnaire measure of sex-typical play in both boys and girls. These results show, for the first time, a link between fetal testosterone and the development of sex-typical play in children from the general population, and are the first data linking high levels of prenatal testosterone to increased male-typical play behavior in boys.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Autism Research Centre, Department of Psychiatry, University of Cambridge; 2: Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom; 3: Department of Fetal Medicine, Rosie Maternity Hospital, Cambridge, United Kingdom; and 4: Department of Social and Developmental Psychology, University of Cambridge

Publication date: February 1, 2009

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