Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism, and other Autism spectrum disorders causes have been a mystery. The condition affects more boys than girls. A study that followed the 253 children from pregnancy to eight years of age, found that the higher the levels of male sex hormones present in the womb of the mother, the more likely the child was to develop autistic traits or have Autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s syndrome.
The Autism Research Institute defines autism as: “Autism is a severe developmental disorder that begins at birth or within the first two-and-a-half years of life. Most autistic children are perfectly normal in appearance, but spend their time engaged in puzzling and disturbing behaviors which are markedly different from those of typical children ” Autism and other related disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrom were thought ot be rare, but the number of cases reported showed a marked increase during the 1990s.
The research conducted by the University of Cambridge and released at the BA Festival of Science in York, England. The researchers measured the fetal levels of testosterone in perspective mothers who were undergoing amniocentesis for clinical reasons. At 12, 18, and 46 months of age the children were given tests by the scientists conducting the study to spot traits of Autism Spectrum disorders.
An increased rate of traits of autism spectrum disorders was found with higher rate the levels of the male hormones the child had been exposed to in the womb. What is not clear is whether the increased rate of Autism and other related disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome were caused increased levels of testosterone and other gender related hormones or whether the higher hormone levels were merely a byproduct of the processes or genes responsible for autistic spectrum disorders.
The study conduced by the York researchers was the first of its type to link fetal levels of testosterone to Autism Spectrum disorders. The role of male hormones in the womb and the exact causes of autism are still not known and one researcher cautioned that more research is needed to determine the link between autism and the male sex hormone. The study suggest that Autism is caused by an extreme form of the male brain. While this has in the past been tested on a psychological basis according to the BBC, the findings of the York team may give researchers a chance to test the theory on biological terms.