Autism reveals itself differently in women and men

If the findings of a new study are anything to go by Autism affects males and females differently. Hitherto, medical studies are replete with evidence that men are more susceptible to contracting autism.

According to the available data, male-to-female ratio troubled by the condition range from 5:1 to 15:1. It is for this reason that most studies on autism tend to have a higher proportion of male participants.

The study
For the purpose of the current study, researchers at the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge analyzed the brain scans of 120 men and women. The composition of the participants was equal in terms of gender and half of the participants under study reportedly had autism.

With the help of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the study researchers compared the brain scans of 30 male and 30 female autism patients aged between 18 and 49. None of these 60 participants reported of any autism-like symptoms. These scans were then compared with the scans of 30 male and 30 female participants who had autism.

“We compared the brains of male patients with and without autism, so we have a pattern to demonstrate how autism manifests in the brain, and then do the same thing for females,” lead author of the study, Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai, said of the research methodology.

“So if autism manifests the same for males and females, then the (patterns would be) quite alike. If it manifests differently by gender, then the two patterns would be quite distinct. And that’s what we found,” revealed Dr. Meng-Chuan Lai.

The analysis revealed in unambiguous terms that different set of brain regions were affected in the male autism brains vis-à-vis in the female autism brains.

The analysis also revealed that the brains of the females who were affected by the condition demonstrated more “masculinization.”

“In terms of brain morphology, females with autism look more alike to typical developing males when they are compared to typical developing females. So the brain changes in females with autism (are) actually shifting towards typical developing males,” Lai said.

The findings of the study find mention in journal Brain.

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