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Papers of the Week

Papers: 20 Jan 2024 - 26 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 23

Neurosci Biobehav Rev


A developmental framework for understanding the influence of sex and gender on health: Pediatric pain as an exemplar.


Boerner KE, Keogh E, Inkster AM, Nahman-Averbuch H, Oberlander TF


Sex differences are a robust finding in many areas of adult health, including cardiovascular disease, psychiatric disorders, and chronic pain. However, many sex differences are not consistently observed until after the onset of puberty. This has led to the hypothesis that hormones are primary contributors to sex differences in health outcomes, largely ignoring the relative contributions of early developmental influences, emerging psychosocial factors, gender, and the interaction between these variables. In this paper, we argue that a comprehensive understanding of sex and gender contributions to health outcomes should start as early as conception and take an iterative biopsychosocial-developmental perspective that considers intersecting social positions. We present a conceptual framework, informed by a review of the literature in basic, clinical, and social science that captures how critical developmental stages for both sex and gender can affect children’s health and longer-term outcomes. The literature on pediatric chronic pain is used as a worked example of how the framework can be applied to understanding different chronic conditions.