New research from Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research has found that boys who are exposed to high levels of testosterone before birth are twice as likely to experience delays in language development.
The research has been published in the latest edition of the international Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. The study, led by Associate Professor Andrew Whitehouse, used umbilical cord blood to explore the presence of testosterone when the language-related regions of a fetus’ brain are undergoing a critical period of growth.
Dr Whitehouse said the finding is significant in that it gives a biological explanation for why boys language development differs to that in girls. “An estimated 12% of toddlers experience significant delays in their language development,” Dr Whitehouse said.
“While language development varies between individuals, boys tend to develop later and at a slower rate than girls.” Dr Whitehouse said the research team wanted to test whether this could be due to prenatal exposure to sex-steroids such as testosterone.
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