Gender disparity in pediatric diseases

D. Del Principe, M. Marconi, P. Matarrese, A. Villani, W. Malorni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sex/gender differences in terms of incidence, prevalence, age at onset and severity have been documented for several complex adulthood diseases. However, several pediatric diseases also displayed a gender disparity. Unfortunately, epidemiologic studies investigating gender disparity in pediatric age show dissimilar results often depending on the spatial and temporal issues, to considerable regional environmental variations, to social conditions or to infectious agent virulence. Anyway, studies over time showed that gender disparity in childhood mortality and morbidity may be narrow in some pathological conditions whereas in other severe diseases, e.g. sepsis, some cancers and some immune disorders, the disproportion was found as significant. In this work we briefly review literature data dealing with sex/gender differences in morbidity and mortality observed during the pediatric age. In particular, communicable and non-communicable diseases, including cancer, have been considered. The possible mechanisms underlining these differences, e.g. hormonal and epigenetic, are also discussed. The analysis of literature available as concerns pediatric age seems to underline that gender differences start very early in human beings and that hormones as well as gene expression in XX and XY cells can play a role. A reappraisal of the gender issue in pediatric research could thus be pivotal: it might contribute to the improvement of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies as well as to the improvement of the appropriateness of the cures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-513
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Cancer
  • Disease
  • Epigenetics
  • Gender
  • Hormones
  • Immune diseases
  • Infectious diseases
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine


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