.Girls require more extreme genetic mutations to develop the condition
.So, it is less likely they will be pushed over the diagnostic threshold
About 1.8% of boys have autism compared to 0.2% of girls
Researchers claim to have discovered why autism is more common in boys than girls.
A study, published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, suggests girls require more extreme genetic mutations than boys to develop the condition.
As a result, it is less likely that they will be pushed over the diagnostic threshold for autism.
Study author Dr Sébastien Jacquemont, of the University Hospital of Lausanne in Switzerland, said: ‘This is the first study that convincingly demonstrates a difference at the molecular level between boys and girls referred to the clinic for a developmental disability.
‘The study suggests that there is a different level of robustness in brain development, and females seem to have a clear advantage.’
Research has previously shown that autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are both more common in boys.
Indeed, about 1.8 per cent of boys have autism compared to just 0.2 per cent of girls.
Some researchers have suggested that there is a social bias that increases the likelihood of diagnosis in boys, whereas others have proposed that there are sex-based differences in genetic susceptibility.
However, past studies investigating biological explanations for the gender bias have proved inconclusive.
To examine this question, Dr Jacquemont teamed up with Dr Evan Eichler, from the University of Washington School of Medicine, to analyse DNA samples from 16,000 people with neuro-developmental disorders – impairments in the development of the brain and central nervous system – and from 800 families affected by autism…
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