Elevated testosterone levels are associated with a reduced risk of asthma in women, new research shows.

Findings from the first population-based study of its kind suggest that sex hormones play a key role in the widely recognized gender differences in asthma presentation among adults.

In children and adolescents the prevalence of asthma is higher among boys than girls, but adult women have higher rates of asthma compared with men, noted Juan Celedón, MD, DrPH, of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and colleagues in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Boys younger than 18 also have higher rates of asthma-related mortality than girls do, but in adulthood, asthma-related mortality is higher among women.

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