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Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012 Dec;77(6):898-904. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04443.x.

Pervasive developmental disorders in children of hyperandrogenic women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a longitudinal case-control study.

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Department of Obstetrics, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia, Italy.



Foetal exposure to high testosterone concentrations seems to be involved in the development of mammalian brain and related to pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). The aim of the current study was to test the hypothesis that children born from hyperandrogenic women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at higher risk of PDDs.


Longitudinal case-control study.


Thirty pregnant PCOS patients with hyperandrogenaemia and other 45 pregnant healthy women were followed during pregnancy. All women had a healthy baby.


Clinical evaluations and biochemical assays of the mothers during pregnancy and after delivery were performed. The children's versions of the Autism-Spectrum Quotient (AQ-C), the Empathy Quotient (EQ-C) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ-C) tests were administered.


Total AQ-C and communication scores were significantly higher for children of PCOS patients. Stratifying our population according to sex, total AQ-C, communication and attention switching subscores were significantly higher only for daughters of PCOS patients. EQ-C and SQ-C scores resulted in significantly lower and higher scores, respectively, only in daughters of PCOS patients in comparison with those of healthy non-PCOS controls. AQ-C, EQ-C and SQ-C scores, irrespective of the studied group and/or subclassification by gender, were significantly influenced by amniotic testosterone levels.


Daughters of mothers affected by hyperandrogenic PCOS seem to have a higher risk for PDDs probably due to an unbalanced prenatal exposure to high levels of testosterone.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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