“Foetal Testosterone, Social Relationships, and Restricted Interests in Children.”

Autism Research Centre, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 6.46). 03/2005; 46(2):198-210. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00349.x
Source: PubMed


Sex-differences exist in some areas of human social behaviour. In animals, foetal testosterone (fT) plays a central role in organising the brain and in later social behaviour. fT has also been implicated in language development, eye-contact, and spatial ability in humans.
Fifty-eight children (35 male and 23 female), whose fT was analysed in amniotic fluid, were followed up at age 4. Their mothers completed the Children's Communication Checklist, a questionnaire assessing language, quality of social relationships and restricted interests.
fT was negatively correlated to quality of social relationships, taking sex-differences into account. fT was also positively correlated with restricted interests in boys.
These findings implicate fT in both social development and attentional focus. They may also have implications for understanding the sex ratio in autism.

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    • "No significant relationship was observed between the other IMQ scales and cord blood testosterone. The non-significant finding on the Personal–Social scale of the IMQ is in contrast with an inverse association reported by Knickmeyer et al. (77) between amniotic-fluid testosterone levels and parent-reported social skills in their sample of children at 4 years. "
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    ABSTRACT: Accurately measuring hormone exposure during prenatal life presents a methodological challenge and there is currently no "gold standard" approach. Ideally, circulating fetal hormone levels would be measured at repeated time points during pregnancy. However, it is not currently possible to obtain fetal blood samples without significant risk to the fetus, and therefore surrogate markers of fetal hormone levels must be utilized. Umbilical cord blood can be readily obtained at birth and largely reflects fetal circulation in late gestation. This review examines the accuracy and biological interpretation of the measurement of androgens and estrogens in cord blood. The use of cord blood hormones to understand and investigate human development is then discussed.
    Frontiers in Endocrinology 05/2014; 5:64. DOI:10.3389/fendo.2014.00064
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    • "tosterone levels correlate quadratically with the amount of eye contact , negatively with quality of social relation - ships and positively with restricted interests . The correlations were found in both a mixed sex sample and when analyzed separately in boys ( but not girls ) ; also , prenatal testosterone was a better predic - tor than was sex ( Knickmeyer et al . , 2005 ; Lutchmaya et al . , 2002 ) ."
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    ABSTRACT: The male predominance of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is one of the best-known, and at the same time, one of the least understood characteristics of these disorders. In this paper we review genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, and environmental mechanisms underlying this male preponderance. Sex-specific effects of Y-linked genes (including SRY expression leading to testicular development), balanced and skewed X-inactivation, genes that escape X-inactivation, parent-of-origin allelic imprinting, and the hypothetical heterochromatin sink are reviewed. These mechanisms likely contribute to etiology, instead of being simply causative to ASD. Environments, both internal and external, also play important roles in ASD's etiology. Early exposure to androgenic hormones and early maternal immune activation comprise environmental factors affecting sex-specific susceptibility to ASD. The gene-environment interactions underlying ASD, suggested here, implicate early prenatal stress as being especially detrimental to boys with a vulnerable genotype.
    Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 04/2014; 35(3). DOI:10.1016/j.yfrne.2014.03.006 · 7.04 Impact Factor
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    • "In a laboratory setting, administration of testosterone in young women was found to induce a significant impairment in their cognitive empathy (Van Honk et al., 2011). Preschool-aged children's social relationships (Knickmeyer et al., 2005) and use of intentional language (Knickmeyer et al., 2006) has similarly been observed to correlate with fetal testosterone exposure. Nonetheless, although the data reviewed above suggest that females display an advantage over males in their ability to correctly identify others' emotional expressions, there are some qualifications to these observed tendencies . "
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    ABSTRACT: Behavioral research indicates that human females are more empathic than males, a disparity that widens from childhood to adulthood. Nevertheless, the extent to which such sex differences are an artifact of self-report indices is unclear. The present study compared age-related sex differences in both self-report and neurophysiological measures of empathic arousal, a primary building block of empathy. Participants included sixty-five 4-17-year-old children (mean 11.5±3.5 years) who completed the Bryant Empathy Scale, and were scanned while viewing animated clips depicting people being hurt. Female participants scored higher than males on self-reported dispositional empathy, a difference that increased with age. In contrast, no sex-related differential changes were detected in hemodynamic responses or in pupil dilation, with no interaction between sex and age. Results suggest a dissociation between explicit ratings and neurophysiological measures of empathic arousal. Past observed sex differences in empathy may reflect females' greater willingness to report empathic experiences. Findings are also discussed in terms of discrepancies in the methods used to assess affective responding and how they relate to the multi-faceted construct of empathy.
    01/2013; 3(1):22-32. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2012.08.001
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