Prenatal Testosterone Levels a Risk Factor for Language Delay

Study finds prenatal testosterone levels a risk factor for language delay in males, but not for females

FRIDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- High prenatal testosterone levels are associated with an increased risk of clinically significant language delay in the first three years of life for male children, but are associated with a reduced risk of language delay for female children, according to research published online Jan. 26 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Andrew J.O. Whitehouse, Ph.D., of the University of Western Australia in Perth, and colleagues compared umbilical cord blood testosterone concentrations with scores from the Infant Monitoring Questionnaire measuring language development at ages 1, 2, and 3 years for 767 children (395 males, 372 females). Prenatal testosterone concentrations were categorized by quartile.

The researchers found that males with the highest prenatal testosterone levels were 2.47-fold more likely to have a clinically significant language delay during the first three years of life than those with lower testosterone concentrations. Females, on the other hand, were much less likely to have a clinically significant language delay with higher prenatal testosterone levels.

"In conclusion, this study identified sex-specific associations between perinatal testosterone concentrations and language development. Higher concentrations of testosterone increased the risk of language delays in males, and reduced the risk in females," the authors write.

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