Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 231–238 | Cite as

Associations of birth weight and physical activity with sex steroids in preschool Japanese children

  • Keiko Wada
  • Kozue Nakamura
  • Yuya Tamai
  • Michiko Tsuji
  • Takako Masue
  • Kyoko Ando
  • Chisato Nagata
Original paper



We aimed to assess the association of body size at birth or physical activity with sex steroid levels, independent of body mass among young children.


The cross-sectional study was conducted in 2006. Subjects were 230 boys and 198 girls, aged 3–6 years. Birth weight was based on parents’ reports. Questions about physical activity focused on outdoor playtime. Urinary estrone, estradiol, testosterone, and 5-androstene-3β,17α diol (3β,17α-AED) levels were measured by liquid chromatography--electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry. Urinary dehydroepiandrosterone level was measured with a radioimmunoassay.


After adjustments for age and BMI, girls with lower birth weight had higher testosterone (trend p = 0.038) and 3β,17α-AED (trend p = 0.028). Girls with low birth weight and high birth weight had higher estrone (p = 0.014) and estradiol (p = 0.074) than those who had middle birth weight. Boys who were physically active had lower testosterone (p = 0.028) and 3β,17α-AED (p = 0.003) than those who were not active. Girls who were physically active had lower estrone (p = 0.015).


Sex steroid levels in childhood might be affected by body size at birth or by physical activity during childhood. These effects might differ by sex.


Sex steroids Child Preschool Body size Birth weight Physical activity 



This work was supported by grants in aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare of Japan.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keiko Wada
    • 1
  • Kozue Nakamura
    • 1
  • Yuya Tamai
    • 1
  • Michiko Tsuji
    • 1
  • Takako Masue
    • 2
  • Kyoko Ando
    • 3
  • Chisato Nagata
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Preventive MedicineGifu University Graduate School of MedicineGifuJapan
  2. 2.Department of UrologyGifu University Graduate School of MedicineGifuJapan
  3. 3.Department of Food and Culture scienceAichi Bunkyo Women’s CollegeInazawa, AichiJapan

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