The goal of this study was to examine the relation of early androgen exposure to sex-typed activities and interests in adolescence. Participants aged 9-19 years included 24 girls and 18 boys with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and 16 unaffected sisters and 24 unaffected brothers who served as controls. Using standardized questionnaires, adolescents reported on their participation in sex-typed activities and interest in sex-typed occupations, and parents reported on the adolescents' activities. As hypothesized, girls with CAH showed sex-atypical preferences: increased interest in male-typical activities and careers and reduced interest in female-typical activities and careers compared to the unexposed control girls. These results extend findings of sex-atypical play in young girls with CAH and suggest that the sex-atypical activities and interests of females with CAH reflect direct effects of androgens on the developing brain rather than social responses to virilized genitalia. These results also suggest that population sex differences in activities and interests arise in part from sex differences in early androgens.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
- Behavioral Neuroscience