1Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, 2Office of Population Studies Foundation, University of San Carlos, 3Anthropology, Northwestern University
Friday 11:00-11:15, Ballroom A
Fathers have lower testosterone than non-fathers in many cultural settings, and it was recently shown that the transition to first-time fatherhood caused testosterone to decline in a sample from the Philippines. There is also evidence that testosterone may have immunosuppressive effects. Thus, one plausible health benefit of reduced paternal testosterone could be enhanced immunity. Drawing on a large, ongoing study in Cebu City, Philippines, we test whether men transitioning to fatherhood show increases in salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) compared to men who do not become fathers and assess whether testosterone impacts these relationships (n = 319). Higher SIgA helps protect the body against infectious agents at mucosal surfaces. Using data collected at two time points (2005 & 2009) 4.5 years apart, we found that new fathers did not differ in changes in SIgA compared to non-fathers. However, regardless of parenthood or marital status, men with greater testosterone declines over the 4.5-year period had larger increases in SIgA (p = 0.0001). Although seemingly unrelated to potential trade-offs between mating and parenting in this sample, we did find evidence indicating that multi-year declines in testosterone predict enhanced SIgA profiles. These data are consistent with the idea that testosterone suppresses some aspects of immunity.
This work was supported by: Wenner Gren Foundation (Gr. 7356; Gr. 8186), National Science Foundation (BCS-0542182; BCS-0962212).