In the past few years, a team of Cambridge University scientists have explored the correlation between testosterone and autism, with some evidence to boot.
But now, new
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This research was published this month in Molecular Psychiatry and Ice by Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen, who is the University's director of the Autism Research Center.
These same researchers previously saw elevated testosterone activity during pregnancy in children who developed autism, particularly in boys.
Their finding corresponded with the higher incidence of autism in small children. According to the CDC, boys are 4 times more likely to have the disorder than girls.
However, the current study reports that other research always shows this correlation between high testosterone and autism. For example, several studies measured hormone levels after a baby was born but high testosterone levels did not correspond with an autism diagnosis.
Thus, the researchers noted that these findings may suggest a link between ASD and the broader endocrine system .
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During this new study, researchers measured estrogen levels through amniotic fluid samples from the Danish History Birth Cohort. The cohort is a large database of samples and information on thousands of pregnancies.
Using these samples, scientists measured estrogen levels in 98 boys who had developed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 1
The authors stated that their method showed "the first evidence that elevated levels of prenatal amniotic oestradiol, oestriol and oestrone are each associated with autism, with oestradiol levels being the most significant predictor of autism likelihood. . . . ”
This correlation between estrogen and autism may provide a new avenue to explore ASD causes since estrogen's role in autism has never been researched, states the report. .
With that knowledge in mind, scientists have shown that autistic girls have an abnormal brain structure that can be seen through an MRI, states the report.
In addition, autistic females and their mothers tend to get breast or ovarian cancer more often than other females. High estrogen levels could explain some of the characteristics surrounding autism that previous research has observed.
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The study concludes that high estrogen is a "characteristic of autism." could interact with genetic factors that play into the disorder.
However, one important note is that Professor Baron-Cohen and his team are simply looking for a deeper understanding of autism, the professor states in Medical Xpress. The team is not trying to establish ASD screening or prevention.