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TitleAssociations between fetal testosterone and pro–social tendencies, anxiety and autistic symptoms in Williams syndrome: a preliminary study
Author(s)Osório, Ana Alexandra Caldas
do Egito, Júlia Horta Tabosa
Martins, Gabriela Carneiro
Kim, Chong Ae
Honjo, Rachel Sayuri
Sampaio, Adriana
Mesquita, Ana Raquel Marcelino
Macedo, Elizeu Coutinho
Boggio, Paulo Sérgio
Teixeira, Maria Cristina Triguero Veloz
KeywordsWilliams syndrome
fetal testosterone
affective empathy
cognitive empathy
Issue date2019
JournalInternational Journal of Developmental Disabilities
CitationAna Alexandra Caldas Osório, Júlia Horta Tabosa do Egito, Gabriela Carneiro Martins, Chong Ae Kim, Rachel Sayuri Honjo, Adriana da Conceição Soares Sampaio, Ana Raquel Marcelino Mesquita, Elizeu Coutinho Macedo, Paulo Sérgio Boggio & Maria Cristina Triguero Veloz Teixeira (2019) Associations between fetal testosterone and pro–social tendencies, anxiety and autistic symptoms in Williams syndrome: a preliminary study, International Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 65:2, 82-88, DOI: 10.1080/20473869.2017.1376163
Abstract(s)Objective: Fetal testosterone (fT) has organizational effects on the developing human nervous system and can be reliably estimated by the ratio between the length of the second and fourth digits — 2D:4D. Previous studies reported altered patterns of fT in some developmental disabilities (e.g. ASD) relative to typically developing individuals (TD). Williams syndrome (WS) is a rare genetic disorder characterized by exacerbated empathy and social approach and heightened anxiety. Recent reports also highlight the co-occurrence of significant levels of autistic symptoms. Despite constituting an interesting model to study androgenic contributions to social behavior, no studies have sought to explore fT in WS. The main aims of this preliminary study were two-fold: (a) to compare 2D:4D in WS and TD; (b) to analyze the pattern of associations between 2D:4D and hypersociability, affective and cognitive empathy, anxiety and autistic symptoms in WS. Methods: 2D:4D were measured from digital scans of the ventral surface of the right hand. Hypersociability, empathy, anxiety and autistic symptoms were obtained from parental reports. Results: There were no significant differences in 2D:4D between WS than TD. In WS lower fT (higher 2D:4D) was significantly associated with hypersociability and affective empathy, as well as marginally associated with anxiety/depression scores. In contrast, cognitive empathy was marginally and negatively associated with 2D:4D, while levels of autistic symptoms were unrelated with this measure. Conclusion: Our results suggest that fT may be implicated in the emergence of several cardinal features of WS, namely hypersociability, affective empathy and anxiety, but not in ASD symptoms.
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