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Cord Blood Testosterone Level Fails to Predict ASD

By Mark N. Ziats on November 14, 2012



More males than females are diagnosed with autism, at a rate of at least 4:1.  This significant gender difference, along with previous animal and human studies of sex differences in brain development, has led researches to speculate that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be exposed to more testosterone—the chief male sex hormone—than unaffected children.


What’s new:

In a study published in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders on 30 October 2012, researchers measured testosterone in the umbilical cord blood of 707 newborns and then followed the cohort for 20 years to determine if the testosterone level at birth correlated with a future diagnosis of ASD or presence of autistic traits.  The researchers found that testosterone levels were not associated with an ASD diagnosis nor related to the development of autistic-like traits in those subjects without a diagnosis of autism.  However, only five of the 707 newborns developed autism. A follow-up study with greater numbers is important to validate these findings.


Why it’s important:

This research suggests that the level of testosterone at birth does not correlate with the development of autism. Additional studies are needed to determine if testosterone levels during the early stages of pregnancy play a role in ASD risk.

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