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Testosterone and Aggression in Children

NCJ Number
Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Volume: 32 Issue: 6 Dated: November 1993 Pages: 1217-1222
Date Published
December 1995
6 pages

This study attempts to determine whether there is a link between serum testosterone and aggressive behavior in children before the time of puberty.


The study measured serum testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) in 18 highly aggressive prepubertal boys, ages 4 to 10, hospitalized for violent or unmanageable behavior at a state children's psychiatric facility in New York City. It compared them with a group of age and race matched controls from the same demographic area, screened negative for aggressive behavior problems. All the aggressive subjects met DSM-III-R criteria for conduct disorder and scored higher than the 98th percentile on the aggression subscale of the Child Behavior Checklist (mean T = 80 for the group). There were no significant differences between aggressive and nonaggressive children for T, SHBG, DHEA, DHEAS or ratios of combinations of these variables. These findings raise questions about inferences from adult studies that testosterone may play a causal role in the development of human aggression. Testosterone does not appear to be a useful biological marker for aggressiveness in early childhood. Table, figure, references

Date Published: December 1, 1995