Navigation Links
Researchers Detect an Anti-Autism Advantage in Females
Date:2/18/2013

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A protective effect in females may help explain one of the biggest mysteries of autism: Why boys are five times more likely to develop the developmental brain disorder than girls.

A new, preliminary study suggests that developing females are much better able than males to fight off genetic pressure to develop symptoms of autism.

The findings aren't definitive and don't point to a treatment or cure. Still, "first steps like this are important" and could lead to greater understanding of autism, said study lead author Elise Robinson, an instructor in the department of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

An estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States has an "autism spectrum disorder." The condition, which can range from mild to severe, is characterized by impaired communication and social interaction. Prevalence of autism is increasing in the United States, although it's not clear if that's largely because there's more awareness of the disorder.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, boys are almost five times more likely than girls to have a form of the disorder -- 1 in 54 boys compared to 1 in 252 girls.

There are many theories about why this autism "gender gap" exists. One idea is that males are threatened in the womb by exposure to testosterone, the male hormone. Another theory holds that females might be somehow inherently better protected against the threat of the condition.

This may fit in with the idea that males are weaker in the womb than females. Boys are generally more prone to develop neurological disorders than girls, noted Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, director of clinical trials at the Lurie Center for Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"We poor males are vulnerable," he said. "Girls have two X chromosomes, so if there's a problem on one, they have a spare." On the other hand, males have one X chromosome and "a Y chromosome that has very few genes," added Zimmerman, who was not involved in the study.

In the new study, published online Feb. 18 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers aimed to figure out how females fared who were born into families that appeared to have a higher genetic risk of autism symptoms. The study authors looked at more than 3,800 pairs of non-identical twins from Great Britain and more than 6,000 pairs of non-identical twins from Sweden. They then tried to figure out how a family risk of autism symptoms (not diagnosed autism itself) affected the twins.

They found evidence that it takes greater family risk -- meaning a higher genetic load -- for a girl to develop autism symptoms. In other words, girls appeared to be more resilient against the threat of autism symptoms compared to boys.

"There's more pressure on them to get it, and once they get it, it's more obvious than in their relatives," said Zimmerman.

Genetics researchers should spend more time studying families with autistic girls in order to better understand the disorder, the research team concluded. This gender-specific research might also help identify ways to prevent autism, they said.

More information

For more about autism, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Elise Robinson, Sc.D., instructor, department of medicine, Harvard Medical School, and assistant in genetics, Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Andrew Zimmerman, M.D., director, clinical trials, Lurie Center for Autism, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; Feb. 18, 2013, online, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


'/>"/>
Copyright©2012 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. NIH awards $20 million over 5 years to train next generation of global health researchers
2. Researchers develop a new cell and animal model of inflammatory breast cancer
3. Researchers uncover a viable way for colorectal cancer patients to overcome drug resistance
4. Researchers Find Gene Mutations That May Be a Key to Autism
5. Researchers find evidence of banned antibiotics in poultry products
6. NJ stroke researchers report advances in spatial neglect research at AAN Conference
7. Autism by the numbers: Yale researchers examine impact of new diagnostic criteria
8. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
9. Researchers ID Genes That May Determine Mental Illness
10. Researchers Develop Blood Test for Depression
11. University of Cincinnati researchers win $3.7M grant from US Department of Defense
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Researchers Detect an Anti-Autism Advantage in Females
(Date:2/8/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... GrassrootsHealth published ... rate of type 2 diabetes in the GrassrootsHealth cohort with substantially higher vitamin ... a change in public health,” states Carole Baggerly, Director of GrassrootsHealth, “the safety ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... February 08, 2016 , ... Guruji Mahendra ... 9th, 10th and 11th, 2016 in honor of his birthday on February 10th. ... happiness. Mahendra Trivedi is known by over 250,000 people from over 40 different ...
(Date:2/7/2016)... ... February 07, 2016 , ... Women's Excellence staff, in all four locations, wore ... Wear Red Day is the first Friday each February and a day to bring ... in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined. Go ...
(Date:2/6/2016)... San Rafael, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 06, 2016 , ... ... 2016 Youth Ultimate Coaching Conference (YUCC) . This event brings together top non-profit leaders, ... is “Gender Equity and Girls Ultimate”. Valerio Iani, Bay Area Disc Program Director of ...
(Date:2/5/2016)... ... February 05, 2016 , ... Steven Tonkinson, 36, of Coconut Grove, Florida, ran ... it started in 2003. This year, he ran all 26.2 miles with a green ... team the Miami Heat. , This Sunday, while many are watching the Superbowl, Steven ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/8/2016)...   GS1 US will hold a series ... GS1 Standards implementation to address the requirements of the ... (UDI) rule. Scott Brown , director ... senior director industry development, medical devices, GS1 US; and ... --> Scott Brown , director ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... NORRITON, Pa. , Feb. 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... of November Research Group (NRG),s pharmacovigilance technology ... pharmacovigilance system-related consulting services and an Oracle Argus ... compliance services to Life Sciences companies. ... strengthens and expands HighPoint,s life sciences capabilities and ...
(Date:2/8/2016)... PALO ALTO, Calif. , Feb. 8, 2016 ... chemical manufacturing, and Kodiak Sciences Inc., a biopharmaceutical company ... retinal disease, announced today agreements for the clinical supply ... manufacture material at multiple sites, including Slough (UK), Visp ... --> Retinal diseases, such as age-related ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: