Prenatal androgen exposure and children’s gender-typed behavior and toy and playmate preferences.
We report findings from two studies investigating possible relations of prenatal androgen exposure to a broad measure of children's gender-typed behavior, as well as specifically to children's toy and playmate preferences. Study 1 investigated these outcomes for 43 girls and 38 boys, aged 4 to 11 years, with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH, a genetic condition causing increased adrenal androgen production beginning prenatally) compared to similarly-aged, unaffected relatives (41 girls, 31 boys). The predicted sex differences were found for all of the outcome measures. Furthermore, girls with CAH showed increased male-typical and decreased female-typical behavior and toy and playmate preferences compared to unaffected girls. Study 2 investigated the relationship of amniotic fluid testosterone to gender-typed behavior and toy and playmate preferences in typically developing children (48 girls, 44 boys) aged 3 to 5 years. Although the predicted sex differences were found for all of the outcome measures, amniotic fluid testosterone was not a significant correlate, in the predicted direction, of any outcome measure for either sex. The results of study 1 provide additional support for an influence of prenatal androgen exposure on children's gender-typed behavior, including toy and playmate preferences. The results of study 2 do not, but amniotic fluid testosterone may be an insufficiently sensitive measure of early androgen exposure. A more sensitive and reliable measure of prenatal androgen exposure may be needed to consistently detect relations to later gender typed behavior in non-clinical populations.