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Pregnancy clue to male hormones

Wednesday April 23rd, 2014

Male health could be determined by the extent of a baby's exposure to testosterone in the womb, Scottish researchers have reported.

Laboratory studies have shown the male hormone is critical to the development of the stem cells that produce the hormone in adult males.

The Edinburgh University researchers say this could be a key factor in male health - with low hormone levels contributing to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Their study centred on the origins of Leydig cells, which produce the hormone in men.

They reported their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last night.

The researchers say the level of testosterone in the womb might be influenced by the mother's lifestyle and any drugs or chemicals she was exposed to.

Researcher Professor Richard Sharpe said: "There is increasing evidence that a mother's diet, lifestyle and exposure to drugs and chemicals can have a significant impact on testosterone levels in the womb.

"We need a better grasp of these factors so that we can give reliable advice to pregnant women to protect the health of her unborn child."

K.R Kilcoyne et al. Fetal programming of adult Leydig cell function by androgenic effects on stem/ progenitor cells. PNAS 21 April 2014. [abstract]

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Diabetes | Heart Health | Menís Health

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