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Testosterone & Fatherhood

September 28, 2011

Men’s testosterone levels drop significantly when they become fathers.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Dialing back Dad’s testosterone.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When a man becomes a dad, his future includes more responsibility – and less testosterone.  This according to Northwestern University anthropologist Lee Gettler and his colleagues.  Past studies had found that fathers tend to have lower testosterone levels than childless men.

LEE GETTLER (Northwestern University):

The question remained whether men with low testosterone were simply more likely to become fathers, or fatherhood caused a decline in testosterone, once men became parents.

HIRSHON:

Gettler’s team followed more than 600 Filipino men from age 21 to 26.  All of them started out single.  But those who ended up becoming fathers experienced greater drops in testosterone in that time than those who didn’t.  The drops were steeper still among dads who helped with child care.  Gettler says the findings are consistent with animal data, and the idea that high testosterone may promote behavior that interferes with parenting.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.