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Clinical Endocrinology

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

Authors

  • Stefano Palomba,

    Corresponding author
    • Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia
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  • Rosa Marotta,

    1. Department of Psychiatry - Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Naples, Italy
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  • Annalisa Di Cello,

    1. Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
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  • Tiziana Russo,

    1. Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia
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  • Angela Falbo,

    1. Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia
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  • Francesco Orio,

    1. Department of Endocrinology, University “Parthenope” of Naples, Naples, Italy
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  • Achille Tolino,

    1. Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University “Federico II” of Naples, Naples, Italy
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  • Fulvio Zullo,

    1. Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, University “Magna Graecia” of Catanzaro, Catanzaro, Italy
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  • Rosa Esposito,

    1. Chair of Neurophysiology, University “Federico II” of Naples, Naples, Italy
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  • Giovanni Battista La Sala

    1. Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, Arcispedale Santa Maria Nuova, Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Reggio Emilia
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Correspondence: Stefano Palomba, Obstetrics and Gynecology Unit, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Pediatrics, Arcispedale “Santa Maria Nuova” of Reggio Emilia, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Viale Risorgimento – 42123, Reggio Emilia, Italy. Tel.: +393475880503; E-mails: stefanopalomba@tin.it, stefano.palomba@asmn.re.it

Summary

Objective

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.

Design

Longitudinal case–control study.

Patients

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

Measurements

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.

Results

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.

Conclusions

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.

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