Vol. 4, No. 2, 1998 Page 6&7


Male hormones (androgens) may be linked to conduct disorder in pre-adolescent boys, according to a new study.

Stephanie van Goozen and colleagues measured hormone levels in 15 aggressive and antisocial boys labeled as having conduct disorder (CD), and 25 controls. Subjects were between the ages of 8 and 12, an age range during which androgen levels are gradually increasing.

The researchers found that boys with CD had significantly higher levels of the androgen DHEAS, which is secreted by the adrenal glands, but not of testosterone (the male hormone most often linked to dominance or aggression in studies of adults). "Moreover," they say, "DHEAS levels were significantly positively correlated with the intensity of aggression and delinquency as rated by both parents and teachers."

These results, the researchers say, "suggest that adrenal androgen functioning plays an important role in the onset and maintenance of aggression in young boys." However, they say, it is unclear whether levels of these hormones were always higher in aggressive subjects, or became higher during pre-pubertal years. Another possibility, they say, is that hormonal levels may have begun rising earlier in aggressive subjects than in non-aggressive subjects.


"Adrenal androgens and aggression in conduct disorder prepubertal boys and normal controls," Stephanie H. M. van Goozen, Walter Matthys, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Jos H. H. Thijssen, and Herman van Engeland, Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 43, No. 2, 1998, pp. 156-158. Address: Stephanie H. M. van Goozen, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, B01- 201, Utrecht Univ. Hospital, P.O. Box 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Related Article: [2003, Vol. 9]

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