Posted by on July 17, 2014 - 10:17am

On July 12, Janet Woodcock, MD, Director, Center for Drug Evaluation & Research at the FDA appeared before the Subcommittee on Health of the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee.  Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (pictured) questioned the Director about the inclusion of equal number of women in drug studies that are often male biased.   The  Women's Health Research Institute at Northwestern provided background information for the Congresswoman on the topic which she acknowledged.

To view her remarks , forward to the 1 hour, 5 minute section of the U-Tube TAPE.

Posted by on September 10, 2012 - 9:04am

New research shows that women with Alzheimer’s disease show worse mental deterioration than men, even when at the same stage of the the disease.

According to researchers at the University of Hertfordshire, men with Alzheimer’s consistently performed better than women across the five cognitive areas they examined.

Most remarkably, the verbal skills of women with Alzheimer’s are worse when compared to men with the disease.   This finding is a striking difference to the profile for the healthy population where females have a distinct advantage.

Led by Keith Laws, Ph.D., the research team completed a meta-analysis of neurocognitive data from 15 published studies, which revealed a consistent male advantage on verbal and visuospatial tasks, as well as on tests of both episodic memory and semantic memory.

Episodic memory describes our ability to recall specific events of our own past, accompanied by the feeling of remembering. Semantic memory is knowledge that we acquire that is purely factual without any personal feeling or history attached.

“Unlike mental decline associated with normal aging, something about Alzheimer’s specifically disadvantages women,” said Laws, a psychology professor.

The influence of hormones might be a possible explanation, he said, pointing to a loss of estrogen in women. Another theory is that men have a “greater cognitive reserve” that protects against the disease, he said.  Further analysis of the data showed that age, education level and dementia severity did not explain the advantage that men with the disease have over women, he added.

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive condition affecting memory, thinking, behavior and emotion, is the most common form of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease International estimates that there are currently 30 million people in the world with dementia, with 4.6 million new cases every year. The incidence of Alzheimer’s is greater among women than men, with the difference increasing with age, researchers note.

The new study was published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.

Source: University of Hertfordshire

Posted by on February 4, 2012 - 7:32am

Studies have shown that language development varies between the sexes, with males generally gaining language skills at a slower rate. Prenatal testosterone is known to influence fetal neurodevelopment, and preliminary studies have suggested that the hormone is associated with language delay.  Researchers from the U of Western Australia explored this issue in a large cohort of children.  They collected umbilical cord blood samples from 861 randomly selected births and measures the bioavailable testosterone levels.  As expected the males had a much higher level of testosterone in the umbilical cord blood than the females. For the following three years the parents completed an Infant Monitoring Questionnaire annually that measured communication (language), gross-motor, fine-motor, adaptive and social development.

As previously reported in other studies, a greater proportion of males had greater communication delay at all three assessments stages.  In addition to the language deficits, males were more likely to have delays in fine-motor function and personal-social skills at age 3.  Conversely, females exposed to the highest levels of testosterone had a reduced likelihood of having a language delay at that age.

This study suggests that high prenatal testosterone levels are a risk factor for language delay in male children.  In contrast to the increased risk for delay in males, higher levels of testosterone appeared to reduce the risk of language delay among females.

Males exposed to the highest testosterone levels were more than twice as likely to have a language delay at age 3, according to Andrew Whitehouse, PhD, of the University of Western Australia in Perth, and colleagues.

"These data suggest that high prenatal testosterone levels are a risk factor for language delay in males, but may be a protective factor for females," according to Whitehouse.   "Replication of these findings is essential, and may help refine our understanding of the level of testosterone that is associated with a detrimental effect on language development in boys."  The researchers expected the results in males but found it difficult to explain the protective effect in females.

They speculated that it might have to do with sex differences in how the brain lateralizes function across left and right hemispheres.
Source reference:
Whitehouse A, et al "Sex-specific associations between umbilical cord blood testosterone levels and language delay in early childhood" J Child Psychol Psychiatry 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2011.02523.x.