View Full Version : Children With Autism Exposed to More Steroid Hormones in The Womb

17-06-14, 16:06
Children who later develop autism are exposed to increased levels of steroid hormones in the womb, new research from the UK and Denmark shows. The study took advantage of amniotic fluid in a Danish biobank from 19,500 women who had chosen to have a routine amniocentesis at 15-16 weeks to screen for developmental problems (Baron-Cohen et al., 2014 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/mp.2014.48)).
The samples were matched to 128 males who later went on to develop autism.

Amongst those who developed autism, there were elevated levels of four key ‘sex steroids’ in the amniotic fluid: progesterone, 17α-hydroxy-progesterone, androstenedione and testosterone.

The study’s lead author, autism expert Professor Baron-Cohen, explained the study’s results:

“This is one of the earliest non-genetic biomarkers that has been identified in children who go on to develop autism.
We previously knew that elevated prenatal testosterone is associated with slower social and language development, better attention to detail, and more autistic traits.
Now, for the first time, we have also shown that these steroid hormones are elevated in children clinically diagnosed with autism.
Because some of these hormones are produced in much higher quantities in males than in females, this may help us explain why autism is more common in males.”


17-06-14, 17:46
Autism is quite a big spectrum of symptoms. It might be the case that described hormonal prenatal anomaly might be responsible for only some cases. The most of them will come from hormonal imbalance in children themselves.

20-08-14, 12:52
Very interesting!
I am an autism researcher and am looking into the effects of testosterone on sexual orientation at the moment, drawing on the Extreme Male Brain theory, (Baron-Cohen, 2002).
Thanks for sharing.