Testosterone in Womb Linked to Autistic Traits

Supports theory that problem is 'extreme male brain' disorder
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 12, 2007 3:18 AM CDT
Autistic boy   (KRT Photos)
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(Newser) – An eight-year study has found a link between high levels of fetal testosterone and autistic traits in children, reports the BBC. Scientists don't know whether the testosterone causes the autistic tendencies or if the hormone is a by-product of autism, but the findings appear to support the head researcher's theory that autism is essentially "extreme male brain."

The study tested fetal testosterone levels in 235 women having amniocentesis and followed their babies through their first eight years. At 12, 18 and 46 months, children who had been exposed to high levels of the male hormone in the womb looked at their mothers' faces less when playing and had smaller vocabularies. At the age of 8, they scored lower on empathy tests.