Early androgens have been shown to facilitate male-typical behavior in people, but little attention has been paid to androgen effects on female- typical behavior. We studied the effects of early androgen on human interest in infants, attempting to extend studies in rodents and primates that indicate that exposure to high levels of androgen in the prenatal and early postnatal periods reduces the expression of maternal behavior in juvenile and adult animals. Parents completed a questionnaire about the behavior of children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) who had been exposed to high levels of androgens early in life, and their unexposed siblings. As hypothesized, girls with CAH were reported to have less interest in infants than their sisters. These results suggest that early androgens may act to suppress some aspects of female-typical behavior in people, as in other species, and that sex differences in maternal behavior result, in part, from early hormones.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology