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Psychiatry Res. 2014 May 30;216(3):424-31. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.02.022. Epub 2014 Feb 22.

Similar photoperiod-related birth seasonalities among professional baseball players and lesbian women with an opposite seasonality among gay men: Maternal melatonin may affect fetal sexual dimorphism.

Author information

1
Per Aspera Research Foundation, 45 West 73rd Street, New York, NY 10023, USA. Electronic address: gmarzullo@prspr.org.

Abstract

Based on pre-mid-20th-century data, the same photoperiod-related birth seasonality previously observed in schizophrenia was also recently found in neural-tube defects and in extreme left-handedness among professional baseball players. This led to a hypothesis implicating maternal melatonin and other mediators of sunlight actions capable of affecting 4th-embryonic-week developments including neural-tube closure and left-right differentiation of the brain. Here, new studies of baseball players suggest that the same sunlight actions could also affect testosterone-dependent male-female differentiation in the 4-month-old fetus. Independently of hand-preferences, baseball players (n=6829), and particularly the stronger hitters among them, showed a unique birth seasonality with an excess around early-November and an equally significant deficit 6 months later around early-May. In two smaller studies, north-American and other northern-hemisphere born lesbians showed the same strong-hitter birth seasonality while gay men showed the opposite seasonality. The sexual dimorphism-critical 4th-fetal-month testosterone surge coincides with the summer-solstice in early-November births and the winter-solstice in early-May births. These coincidences are discussed and a "melatonin mechanism" is proposed based on evidence that in seasonal breeders maternal melatonin imparts "photoperiodic history" to the newborn by direct inhibition of fetal testicular testosterone synthesis. The present effects could represent a vestige of this same phenomenon in man.

KEYWORDS:

2D:4D ratios; Batting averages; Fetal testosterone; Homosexuality; Masculinity; Muscularity; POA nucleus

PMID:
24612972
DOI:
10.1016/j.psychres.2014.02.022
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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