Testosterone Levels Related To Autistic Traits

Testosterone Levels Linked To Autistic Traits

Testosterone, Polarized X62.5, 530 Nm

The conclusion of groundbreaking research published in the British Journal of Psychology on 12th January 2009, found that levels of testosterone in amniotic fluid were linked to children’s autistic traits up to ten years later.

It concludes that exposure to high levels of testosterone in the womb is related to the development of autistic traits.

The Research

The Research team at the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge measured the levels of foetal testosterone in the amniotic fluid of 235 women who underwent amniocentesis during pregnancy.   Years later these mothers completed questionnaires that measured their children’s autistic traits. By this time, the 118 boys and 117 girls were aged between 6 and 10.    Two separate measures of autistic traits (the Child Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ-Child) and the Childhood Autistic Spectrum Test (CAST)) were conducted for both boys and girls.

The findings

High levels of foetal testosterone were found to be associated with high scores on the measures of autistic traits.   High scores on these measures of autistic traits reflected poorer social skills, imagination and mind reading but good attention to, and memory for detail.

This research also found out  that higher levels of foetal testosterone are associated with:

  1. Less eye contact at children’s first birthday.
  2. Slower language development at their second birthday.
  3. More peer difficulties at their fourth birthday.
  4. More difficulties with empathy at their sixth birthday. 
  5. Excellent attention to detail.
  6. A love of repetition.
  7. Social and communication difficulties.

Significance of the Findings:

For the first time, the study highlights the association between foetal testosterone and autistic traits.  It also indicates that foetal testosterone not only masculinises the body, it masculinises the mind and therefore the brain.

This theory may also explain the higher incidence of these conditions in boys than in girls.  Since the male foetus produces on average twice as much testosterone as the female foetus.


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