“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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    • "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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    • "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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