Estrogen and Autism?

BACKGROUND: Sex-differences exist in some areas of human social behaviour. In animals, foetal testosterone (fT) plays a central role in organising the brain and in later social behaviour. fT has also been implicated in language development, eye-contact, and spatial ability in humans. METHODS: Fifty-eight children (35 male and 23 female), whose fT was analysed in amniotic fluid, were followed up at age 4. Their mothers completed the Children’s Communication Checklist, a questionnaire assessing language, quality of social relationships and restricted interests. RESULTS: fT was negatively correlated to quality of social relationships, taking sex-differences into account. fT was also positively correlated with restricted interests in boys. CONCLUSIONS: These findings implicate fT in both social development and attentional focus. They may also have implications for understanding the sex ratio in autism. (Knickmeyer, R., Baron-Cohen, S., Raggatt, P. & Taylor K. (2005). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines, 46(2), 198-210.)

I keep thinking that estrogen may be integral to understanding the timing of maturation in addition to testosterone influencing the rate of maturation. The rate of maturation seems central to the kinds of discoveries above. Click here for an exploration of the possible effects of estrogen.

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