Gender and Autism: Does it Play a Role?

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Autism and Gender: Does it Play a Role?

You may be aware that statistics show that autism is more prevalent among boys than girls, but new research has also determined that sibling gender plays a role in other siblings being diagnosed with disorder. Could there be a significant link between autism and gender that we’re overlooking?

Autism-spectrum disorders (ASD) are neurodevelopmental conditions that typically emerge in the first few years and affect 1 in 68 children in the U.S., per the CDC. Past research has found that males are at far greater risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than females. In fact, boys, on average, are five times more likely to have autism than girls — but why is autism more common in boys?

The Link Between Autism and Gender

A 2014 study published in the American Journal of Human Genetics says genetics may be a key factor in the link between autism and gender. The researchers found that girls have a higher tolerance for genetic mutations and therefore require a larger number of them than boys to be diagnosed with a developmental disorder. Simply put, even with identical genetic mutations, a boy could display symptoms of ASD while a girl could show none.

“Overall, females function a lot better than males with a similar mutation affecting brain development,” said study author Dr. Sébastien Jacquemont of the University Hospital of Lausanne. “Our findings may lead to the development of more sensitive, gender-specific approaches for the diagnostic screening of neurodevelopmental disorders.”

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