Young women with a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are seen to be likelier to have an autistic offspring compared to their peers who are non-PCOS. The analysis of PCOS was carried out by a research team based out of Cambridge University.
PCOS is seen to be affecting one in ten women and is caused by hormone testosterone being elevated to higher levels. PCOS has an association with follicles present in the ovaries.
Symptoms that indicate the presence of PCOS
- Irregular Menstrual Cycles
- Delayed puberty
- Presence of excessive body hair
Autism is a condition that is characterized by communication and social interaction difficulties which limits an individual to have narrowed interests. Further, an autistic person might see themselves buoyed down by strong preferences to predict and difficulties in adjusting to slight/unexpected changes.
On the other hand, a handful of autistic people might also have delayed language and learning difficulties that push them to be hypersensitive in nature. Nevertheless, the signs of autism condition are seen to occur during the first 24 months of a child life. As per the data available, autism condition is believed to affect 1% of the overall world population.
Earlier studies have also highlighted instances of autistic children being born with higher than normal ‘sex steroid,’ hormones that tend to over-masculinize a baby’s brain and the body. This discovery is also seen to provide a partial explanation as to why autism condition is seen to be more-prevailing in boys than in girls.
During the course of the investigation to understand the triggering external factors surrounding elevated hormones, scientists discovered the probability of higher testosterone levels in mothers as an important factor that exposes her unborn offspring to this hormone resulting in the baby being born with an altered brain mechanism.
To arrive at a better explanation, scientists formed a large database of already available health records and compared 8,588 women with PCOS to 41,127 women without PCOS. The team found the presence of PCOS increased the risk of autism condition in an unborn by 2.3%.
Nevertheless, the research team did also explain about the likelihood of autism condition in offspring to be low even among those women with a history of PCOS. However, the team highlights this to be an important factor in uncovering one among the many factors surrounding autism condition.
In parallel to PCOS study, the research team also carried out two additional studies using similar data and found autistic women were likelier to have PCOS and women with PCOS were likelier to have autism condition. This also suggests that the two conditions are interlinked and share similar patterns of elevated sex steroid hormonal levels.
“This is a crucial piece of evidence that is important to understand that autism condition is not only genetic-dependent but also can be triggered by prenatal steroid hormones such as testosterone,” explains Adrian Cherskov.