Increased adrenal androgen functioning in children with oppositional defiant disorder: A comparison with psychiatric and normal controls

Stephanie H.M. Van Goozen*, Els Van Den Ban, Walter Matthys, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Jos H.H. Thijssen, Herman Van Engeland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To examine the relationship between adrenal androgens and aggression in children with oppositional and antisocial behavior and to compare their levels with those of psychiatric and normal controls. Method: Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) was measured in 24 children with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), 42 psychiatric controls (including 20 children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]), and 30 normal controls. The children's parents filled out the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Results: Children with ODD had higher DHEAS levels than either the psychiatric control or normal control groups; DHEAS levels of the latter groups did not differ. Moreover, it was possible to classify children as having either ODD or ADHD on the basis of their DHEAS levels, whereas this was not the case on the basis of the CBCL data. Conclusions: The results indicate that adrenal androgen functioning is specifically elevated in children with ODD. It is speculated that the mechanism could be a shift in balance of ACTH-β-endorphin functioning in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis due to early stress or genetic factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1446-1451
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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