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__june_choCho JI, Carlo WA, Su X, McCormick KL. (2012). Associations between salivary testosterone and cortisol levels and neonatal health and growth outcomes.Early Hum Dev, 88(10), 789-95.

Dr. Cho's study examined the correlation of neonatal health and growth with levels of postnatal salivary testosterone and cortisol in very low birth weight (VLBW) neonates.  The relationship between the two steroid hormones in mothers and neonates is also examined.  Participants were 101 VLBW infants and their mothers.  The infants were between 6 and 10 days old, less than 34 weeks of gestational age and less than 1500 grams at birth.  Data were obtained through review of infant and maternal medical records, interviews with mothers and biochemical measurements.  Testosterone and cortisol were collected using low-pressure suction at between 9 and 60 days of life before noon (to control for the circadian rhythm of testosterone secretion).  Three samples were collected within a two hour period from each participant in order to minimize the influence of the episodic pattern of steroid hormone secretion.

Analysis of testosterone and cortisol levels using enzyme immunoassay revealed that levels of the two hormones were strongly correlated.  Testosterone levels did not differ between male and female neonates while cortisol levels were higher in female infants.  Higher testosterone levels in neonates were associated with poorer health and growth in the first week of life.  After controlling for infant gender and maternal variables (age, race, BMI, education, marital status, pregnancy complications, labor complications), infants with higher levels of testosterone were more premature, more likely to receive CPR at birth, hospitalized longer, weighed less and were shorter at 7 days of age.  After controlling for infant gender and maternal variables, higher cortisol levels were correlated only with more technology-dependence at discharge.

For more information, contact Dr. Cho at jcho@uab.edu

Article summary by Jennifer Frank, PhD (jfranf@uab.edu)