Prenatal exposure to stressful life events is associated with masculinized anogenital distance (AGD) in female infants

Emily S. Barrett, Lauren E. Parlett, Sheela Sathyanarayana, Fan Liu, J. Bruce Redmon, Christina Wang, Shanna H. Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In animal models, prenatal stress programs reproductive development in the resulting offspring, however little is known about effects in humans. Anogenital distance (AGD) is a commonly used, sexually dimorphic biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure in many species. In rodents, prenatally stressed males have shorter AGD than controls (suggesting lower prenatal androgen exposure), whereas prenatally stressed females have longer AGD than controls (suggesting greater prenatal androgen exposure). Our objective was to investigate the relationship between stressful life events in pregnancy and infant AGD. In a prospective cohort study, pregnant women and their partners reported exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy. Pregnancies in which the couple reported 4. + life events were considered highly stressed. After birth (average 16.5. months), trained examiners measured AGD in the infants (137 males, 136 females). After adjusting for age, body size and other covariates, females born to couples reporting high stress had significantly longer (i.e. more masculine) AGD than females born to couples reporting low stress (p. =. 0.015). Among males, high stress was weakly, but not significantly, associated with shorter AGD. Our results suggest prenatal stress may masculinize some aspects of female reproductive development in humans. More sensitive measures of prenatal stress and additional measures of reproductive development are needed to better understand these relationships and clarify mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume114-115
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 10 2013

Fingerprint

Androgens
Pregnancy
Body Size
Human Development
Pregnant Women
Rodentia
Cohort Studies
Animal Models
Biomarkers
Parturition
Prospective Studies

Keywords

  • Anogenital distance
  • Fetal programming
  • Reproduction
  • Stress
  • Testosterone

Cite this

Prenatal exposure to stressful life events is associated with masculinized anogenital distance (AGD) in female infants. / Barrett, Emily S.; Parlett, Lauren E.; Sathyanarayana, Sheela; Liu, Fan; Redmon, J. Bruce; Wang, Christina; Swan, Shanna H.

In: Physiology and Behavior, Vol. 114-115, 10.04.2013, p. 14-20.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Barrett, Emily S. ; Parlett, Lauren E. ; Sathyanarayana, Sheela ; Liu, Fan ; Redmon, J. Bruce ; Wang, Christina ; Swan, Shanna H. / Prenatal exposure to stressful life events is associated with masculinized anogenital distance (AGD) in female infants. In: Physiology and Behavior. 2013 ; Vol. 114-115. pp. 14-20.
@article{6639072efa2e4b31acca8289fcce832f,
title = "Prenatal exposure to stressful life events is associated with masculinized anogenital distance (AGD) in female infants",
abstract = "In animal models, prenatal stress programs reproductive development in the resulting offspring, however little is known about effects in humans. Anogenital distance (AGD) is a commonly used, sexually dimorphic biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure in many species. In rodents, prenatally stressed males have shorter AGD than controls (suggesting lower prenatal androgen exposure), whereas prenatally stressed females have longer AGD than controls (suggesting greater prenatal androgen exposure). Our objective was to investigate the relationship between stressful life events in pregnancy and infant AGD. In a prospective cohort study, pregnant women and their partners reported exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy. Pregnancies in which the couple reported 4. + life events were considered highly stressed. After birth (average 16.5. months), trained examiners measured AGD in the infants (137 males, 136 females). After adjusting for age, body size and other covariates, females born to couples reporting high stress had significantly longer (i.e. more masculine) AGD than females born to couples reporting low stress (p. =. 0.015). Among males, high stress was weakly, but not significantly, associated with shorter AGD. Our results suggest prenatal stress may masculinize some aspects of female reproductive development in humans. More sensitive measures of prenatal stress and additional measures of reproductive development are needed to better understand these relationships and clarify mechanisms.",
keywords = "Anogenital distance, Fetal programming, Reproduction, Stress, Testosterone",
author = "Barrett, {Emily S.} and Parlett, {Lauren E.} and Sheela Sathyanarayana and Fan Liu and Redmon, {J. Bruce} and Christina Wang and Swan, {Shanna H.}",
year = "2013",
month = "4",
day = "10",
doi = "10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.03.004",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "114-115",
pages = "14--20",
journal = "Physiology and Behavior",
issn = "0031-9384",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Prenatal exposure to stressful life events is associated with masculinized anogenital distance (AGD) in female infants

AU - Barrett, Emily S.

AU - Parlett, Lauren E.

AU - Sathyanarayana, Sheela

AU - Liu, Fan

AU - Redmon, J. Bruce

AU - Wang, Christina

AU - Swan, Shanna H.

PY - 2013/4/10

Y1 - 2013/4/10

N2 - In animal models, prenatal stress programs reproductive development in the resulting offspring, however little is known about effects in humans. Anogenital distance (AGD) is a commonly used, sexually dimorphic biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure in many species. In rodents, prenatally stressed males have shorter AGD than controls (suggesting lower prenatal androgen exposure), whereas prenatally stressed females have longer AGD than controls (suggesting greater prenatal androgen exposure). Our objective was to investigate the relationship between stressful life events in pregnancy and infant AGD. In a prospective cohort study, pregnant women and their partners reported exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy. Pregnancies in which the couple reported 4. + life events were considered highly stressed. After birth (average 16.5. months), trained examiners measured AGD in the infants (137 males, 136 females). After adjusting for age, body size and other covariates, females born to couples reporting high stress had significantly longer (i.e. more masculine) AGD than females born to couples reporting low stress (p. =. 0.015). Among males, high stress was weakly, but not significantly, associated with shorter AGD. Our results suggest prenatal stress may masculinize some aspects of female reproductive development in humans. More sensitive measures of prenatal stress and additional measures of reproductive development are needed to better understand these relationships and clarify mechanisms.

AB - In animal models, prenatal stress programs reproductive development in the resulting offspring, however little is known about effects in humans. Anogenital distance (AGD) is a commonly used, sexually dimorphic biomarker of prenatal androgen exposure in many species. In rodents, prenatally stressed males have shorter AGD than controls (suggesting lower prenatal androgen exposure), whereas prenatally stressed females have longer AGD than controls (suggesting greater prenatal androgen exposure). Our objective was to investigate the relationship between stressful life events in pregnancy and infant AGD. In a prospective cohort study, pregnant women and their partners reported exposure to stressful life events during pregnancy. Pregnancies in which the couple reported 4. + life events were considered highly stressed. After birth (average 16.5. months), trained examiners measured AGD in the infants (137 males, 136 females). After adjusting for age, body size and other covariates, females born to couples reporting high stress had significantly longer (i.e. more masculine) AGD than females born to couples reporting low stress (p. =. 0.015). Among males, high stress was weakly, but not significantly, associated with shorter AGD. Our results suggest prenatal stress may masculinize some aspects of female reproductive development in humans. More sensitive measures of prenatal stress and additional measures of reproductive development are needed to better understand these relationships and clarify mechanisms.

KW - Anogenital distance

KW - Fetal programming

KW - Reproduction

KW - Stress

KW - Testosterone

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84875767228&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84875767228&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.03.004

DO - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.03.004

M3 - Article

VL - 114-115

SP - 14

EP - 20

JO - Physiology and Behavior

JF - Physiology and Behavior

SN - 0031-9384

ER -