Why autism is different for boys and girls

by Anna
(The Special Life)

"It's all in the genes" goes the saying. And when it comes to autism, it may actually be true. Researchers in the University of Washington have identified specific genes that are related to autism, and along the way have also found evidence for why autism is more prevalent in boys than girls.

Here's the nitty gritty according to the researchers:
"Schellenberg said the study came up with "strong support" for an autism gene on chromosome 7 and "less, but still compelling evidence" for genes on chromosomes 3, 4 and 11. These results confirm some data from previous studies, particularly involving chromosome 7. " Gerard Schellenberg is the lead author of the study results that were released today. He's also a researcher at the Puget Sound Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a research professor of medicine at the University of Washington.

According to a report in Medical News Today from Aug 10, 2006, Geraldine Dawson, a professor of psychology explains that "What is meaningful is that we have found evidence for two genetic subtypes of autism, male versus female and early versus late onset. This is a critical piece of information."

So here's the thing. If researchers can start identifying the different types of autism as genetically different, then that means in the long term, there is a possibility of predicting a tendency towards autism, in the same way that we can now identify high risks for certain types of cancer.

And, of course, it opens up the door for possible types of treatment or prevention as well. Which is very good news indeed.

You can even help the researchers do their thing. The ongoing research is being undertaken by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Collaborative Program of Excellence in Autism, located in Washington. If your family has more than one child with autism you can possibly join this genetics study by calling 1-800-994-9701. Or, you can contact Schellenberg zachdad@u.washington.edu or Dawson dawson@u.washington.edu.

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