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Sex and gender differences in newborn infants: why are boys at increased risk?

By Emma Elsmén, Mårten Steen and Lena Hellström-Westas


Newborn boys have higher morbidity and mortality than girls. Several studies have shown that male newborn sex is an independent risk factor for adverse outcome. The specific mechanisms leading to the increased risks for newborn boys are not known. However, several sex-specific reactions and physiologic responses have been described in both the fetus and newborn infants. Some of these differences persist during childhood; although later other sex and gender-specific differences become more important. Recently, the research aiming at explaining the vulnerability in male infants has been intensified. Experimental data from newborn animals have shown that many sex differences can be explained by differences in hormonal function and stress responses. However, if these findings apply to humans as well is not yet known. The aim of this paper is to review literature on very early sex-specific differences and shed some light on the increased risks for male fetuses and newborn boys

Topics: Medicinal Chemistry, Pediatrics
Publisher: 'Elsevier BV'
Year: 2004
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jmhg.2004.09.010
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