When men become fathers, their testosterone levels drop. A low level of androgen is associated with greater dedication to childcare and housework. A group led by Lee Gettler, from the University of Notre Dame, has found that the influence of the new role on hormonal balance is also associated with the relationship with the parent: newly minted parents have low levels of testosterone especially if his own father was significantly involved in the child’s upbringing. Puberty is a critical period in this phenomenon, it is reported in PNAS.
The researchers analyzed data on nearly 1,000 Philippine men registered between 1983 and 2014. The study focused on infancy, middle childhood (ages 6 to 11), and adolescence (ages 12 to 19) of Participants: How involved were parents in your education? Did they live with family at the time? From the saliva samples, the authors determined the subjects’ testosterone concentration. They then compared the values of participants who had had children during the research period. Result? If the men had a parent who was involved in their care during youth, their testosterone levels were lower when they became a father themselves. In contrast, the degree of father’s involvement in infancy and childhood did not play a role in relation to androgen levels.
The authors suggest that social influences, especially during adolescence and puberty, alter the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, which regulates testosterone production. “This shows how parenthood and especially fatherhood can have lasting effects across generations, not only through behavior, but also through biology,” says Gettler.
However, care must be taken when interpreting the results. The researchers did not have the hormone levels of the parents of the first generation. Men with lower testosterone may take better care of their children. Therefore, the explanation for the lower production of the sex hormone by the children would not lie in the parenting style, but in the paternal genes. There is a hereditary component to testosterone production, the authors write. However, Gettler considers it unlikely that everything is a matter of inheritance: “Even if we had data on the testosterone of the parents of the first generation, it would be unlikely that paternal testosterone would have influenced only during adolescence and not in the two previous moments analyzed in our study, infancy and middle childhood.”
Reference: «Evidence for an adolescent sensitive period to family experiences influencing adult male testosterone production». Lee T. Gettler et al. posted online at Proceedings of the National Academy of SciencesMay 31, 2022.
#parents #influence #testosterone #level #sons