Research summary: Prenatal testosterone and language development
Today we have our first research summary from a student member of ASfAR! Lauren Hollier is a PhD student at the Telethon Institute/University Western Australia (@childhealthnews).
Lauren recently published a paper on the links between prenatal testosterone levels and language development in typically-developing children, to begin exploring why some children develop language impairments. Below is the link to the article (full text isn’t freely available, I’m sorry to say!)
Autism is among the most severe, prevalent and heritable of all neurodevelopmental disorders. However, the factors causing autism are still unclear.Baron-Cohen (2002) proposed that exposure to higher levels of prenatal testosterone, may play a casual role in the development of autism. However, research in this area has been limited by indirect measures of testosterone and small unrepresentative samples. Using the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study, we were able to investigate the relationship between prenatal testosterone exposure and language development in early childhood. Umbilical cord blood was collected at birth to measure testosterone, and vocabulary was measured at 2 years of age. We found that for boys, higher levels of prenatal testosterone were related to a reduced vocabulary at 2 years of age. No relationship was observed in girls. These findings suggest that in typically developing children, higher levels of fetal testosterone may be related to reduced language development in boys.