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      Fetal sex differences in human chorionic gonadotropin fluctuate by maternal race, age, weight and by gestational age.

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          Abstract

          Circulating levels of the placental glycoprotein hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are higher in women carrying female v. male fetuses; yet, the significance of this difference with respect to maternal factors, environmental exposures and neonatal outcomes is unknown. As a first step in evaluating the biologic and clinical significance of sex differences in hCG, we conducted a population-level analysis to assess its stability across subgroups. Subjects were women carrying singleton pregnancies who participated in prenatal and newborn screening programs in CA from 2009 to 2012 (1.1 million serum samples). hCG was measured in the first and second trimesters and fetal sex was determined from the neonatal record. Multivariate linear models were used to estimate hCG means in women carrying female and male fetuses. We report fluctuations in the ratios of female to male hCG by maternal factors and by gestational age. hCG was higher in the case of a female fetus by 11 and 8% in the first and second trimesters, respectively (P<0.0001). There were small (1-5%) fluctuations in the sex difference by maternal race, weight and age. The female-to-male ratio in hCG decreased from 17 to 2% in the first trimester, and then increased from 2 to 19% in the second trimester (P<0.0001). We demonstrate within a well enumerated, diverse US population that the sex difference in hCG overall is stable. Small fluctuations within population subgroups may be relevant to environmental and physiologic effects on the placenta and can be probed further using these types of data.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          J Dev Orig Health Dis
          Journal of developmental origins of health and disease
          Cambridge University Press (CUP)
          2040-1752
          2040-1744
          Dec 2015
          : 6
          : 6
          Affiliations
          [1 ] 1Department of Epidemiology,Graduate School of Public Health,University of Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh,PA,USA.
          [2 ] 3California Department of Public Health,Genetic Disease Screening Program,Program Development and Evaluation,Richmond,CA,USA.
          [3 ] 4Statistical Analysis Core,UCSF Pepper Center,University of California,San Francisco,CA,USA.
          [4 ] 5Bioinformatics Core,Clinical Translation and Science Institute,University of Pittsburgh,Pittsburgh,PA,USA.
          Article
          S2040174415001336 NIHMS732279
          10.1017/S2040174415001336
          4625920
          26242396

          placental hormones, pregnancy, sexual dimorphism

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