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Effect of prenatal testosterone exposure on language development in early childhood.

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Prenatal exposure to testosterone is known to affect fetal brain maturation and later neurocognitive function. However, research on the effects of prenatal testosterone exposure has been limited by indirect measures of testosterone (e.g. 2D:4D ratio) and small unrepresentative samples. The aim of this research is to investigate whether circulating fetal testosterone concentrations are associated with language development in early childhood, using umbilical cord serum testosterone as a surrogate measure of prenatal testosterone exposure in a large unselected birth cohort. We hypothesised that higher fetal testosterone concentrations will be inversely related to spontaneous language ability in early childhood. Umbilical cord serum samples taken immediately after delivery in a subset of the Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study (N=373; M=197, F=176) were assayed for testosterone by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Expressive vocabulary was measured at two years of age using the Language Development Survey (LDS; Rescorla, 1989). A range of sociodemographic variables posited to influence neurocognitive outcomes were also investigated. Findings from this research may have implications for developmental disorders that involve poor language development.

This talk is part of the ARClub Talks series.

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