Prenatal testosterone exposure is related to sexually dimorphic facial morphology in adulthood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Citations (Scopus)
434 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Prenatal testosterone may have a powerful masculinizing effect on postnatal physical characteristics. However, no study has directly tested this hypothesis. Here, we report a 20-year follow-up study that measured testosterone concentrations from the umbilical cord blood of 97 male and 86 female newborns, and procured three-dimensional facial images on these participants in adulthood (range: 21–24 years). Twenty-three Euclidean and geodesic distances were measured from the facial images and an algorithm identified a set of six distances that most effectively distinguished adult males from females. From these distances, a ‘gender score’ was calculated for each face, indicating the degree of masculinity or femininity. Higher cord testosterone levels were associated with masculinized facial features when males and females were analysed together (n = 183; r = −0.59), as well as when males (n = 86; r = −0.55) and females (n = 97; r = −0.48) were examined separately (p-values < 0.001). The relationships remained significant and substantial after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Adult circulating testosterone concentrations were available for males but showed no statistically significant relationship with gendered facial morphology (n = 85, r = 0.01, p = 0.93). This study provides the first direct evidence of a link between prenatal testosterone exposure and human facial structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume282
Issue number1816
Early online date23 Sep 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2015

Fingerprint

testosterone
adulthood
Testosterone
Femininity
masculinization
Masculinity
umbilical cord
Confounding Factors (Epidemiology)
Three-Dimensional Imaging
Fetal Blood
gender
neonates
Blood
blood
exposure

Cite this

@article{54cbc520b7e24b61bb22ad79e44900db,
title = "Prenatal testosterone exposure is related to sexually dimorphic facial morphology in adulthood",
abstract = "Prenatal testosterone may have a powerful masculinizing effect on postnatal physical characteristics. However, no study has directly tested this hypothesis. Here, we report a 20-year follow-up study that measured testosterone concentrations from the umbilical cord blood of 97 male and 86 female newborns, and procured three-dimensional facial images on these participants in adulthood (range: 21–24 years). Twenty-three Euclidean and geodesic distances were measured from the facial images and an algorithm identified a set of six distances that most effectively distinguished adult males from females. From these distances, a ‘gender score’ was calculated for each face, indicating the degree of masculinity or femininity. Higher cord testosterone levels were associated with masculinized facial features when males and females were analysed together (n = 183; r = −0.59), as well as when males (n = 86; r = −0.55) and females (n = 97; r = −0.48) were examined separately (p-values < 0.001). The relationships remained significant and substantial after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Adult circulating testosterone concentrations were available for males but showed no statistically significant relationship with gendered facial morphology (n = 85, r = 0.01, p = 0.93). This study provides the first direct evidence of a link between prenatal testosterone exposure and human facial structure.",
author = "Andrew Whitehouse and Zulqarnain Gilani and Faisal Shafait and Ajmal Mian and Diana Tan and Murray Maybery and Jeffrey Keelan and Roger Hart and D.J. Handelsman and M. Goonawardene and Peter Eastwood",
year = "2015",
month = "10",
day = "7",
doi = "10.1098/rspb.2015.1351",
language = "English",
volume = "282",
pages = "1--9",
journal = "Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: series B",
issn = "0962-8452",
publisher = "ROYAL SOCIETY",
number = "1816",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Prenatal testosterone exposure is related to sexually dimorphic facial morphology in adulthood

AU - Whitehouse, Andrew

AU - Gilani, Zulqarnain

AU - Shafait, Faisal

AU - Mian, Ajmal

AU - Tan, Diana

AU - Maybery, Murray

AU - Keelan, Jeffrey

AU - Hart, Roger

AU - Handelsman, D.J.

AU - Goonawardene, M.

AU - Eastwood, Peter

PY - 2015/10/7

Y1 - 2015/10/7

N2 - Prenatal testosterone may have a powerful masculinizing effect on postnatal physical characteristics. However, no study has directly tested this hypothesis. Here, we report a 20-year follow-up study that measured testosterone concentrations from the umbilical cord blood of 97 male and 86 female newborns, and procured three-dimensional facial images on these participants in adulthood (range: 21–24 years). Twenty-three Euclidean and geodesic distances were measured from the facial images and an algorithm identified a set of six distances that most effectively distinguished adult males from females. From these distances, a ‘gender score’ was calculated for each face, indicating the degree of masculinity or femininity. Higher cord testosterone levels were associated with masculinized facial features when males and females were analysed together (n = 183; r = −0.59), as well as when males (n = 86; r = −0.55) and females (n = 97; r = −0.48) were examined separately (p-values < 0.001). The relationships remained significant and substantial after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Adult circulating testosterone concentrations were available for males but showed no statistically significant relationship with gendered facial morphology (n = 85, r = 0.01, p = 0.93). This study provides the first direct evidence of a link between prenatal testosterone exposure and human facial structure.

AB - Prenatal testosterone may have a powerful masculinizing effect on postnatal physical characteristics. However, no study has directly tested this hypothesis. Here, we report a 20-year follow-up study that measured testosterone concentrations from the umbilical cord blood of 97 male and 86 female newborns, and procured three-dimensional facial images on these participants in adulthood (range: 21–24 years). Twenty-three Euclidean and geodesic distances were measured from the facial images and an algorithm identified a set of six distances that most effectively distinguished adult males from females. From these distances, a ‘gender score’ was calculated for each face, indicating the degree of masculinity or femininity. Higher cord testosterone levels were associated with masculinized facial features when males and females were analysed together (n = 183; r = −0.59), as well as when males (n = 86; r = −0.55) and females (n = 97; r = −0.48) were examined separately (p-values < 0.001). The relationships remained significant and substantial after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Adult circulating testosterone concentrations were available for males but showed no statistically significant relationship with gendered facial morphology (n = 85, r = 0.01, p = 0.93). This study provides the first direct evidence of a link between prenatal testosterone exposure and human facial structure.

U2 - 10.1098/rspb.2015.1351

DO - 10.1098/rspb.2015.1351

M3 - Article

VL - 282

SP - 1

EP - 9

JO - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: series B

JF - Proceedings of the Royal Society of London: series B

SN - 0962-8452

IS - 1816

ER -