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Boys and girls with autism may have differing needs.

Boys and girls with autism may have differing needs.

As we've reported on this blog in the past, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released updated statistics about the prevalence of autism earlier this year. According to the government agency, approximately one in 50 children across the country may be living with some form of autism, emphasizing a need for increased research regarding diets for children with autism and other treatments. However, it is also becoming increasingly clear that current approaches to this research may require revision.

Back in May, we covered a piece arguing that the needs of boys and girls with autism may differ. Autism is substantially more common among males, and as a result, Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks noted that many studies only include "a small number of girls."

A new report from the University of Cambridge has provided yet more evidence that the impact of autism along gender lines must be taken into account. A press release from the university states that autism may have a different neurological effect on males and females.

"One of our new findings is that females with autism show neuroanatomical 'masculinization'," explained senior author Simon Baron-Cohen. This means that parts of the brain in girls with autism don't show the same characteristic differences seen between males and females without the disorder. "This may implicate physiological mechanisms that drive sexual dimorphism, such as prenatal sex hormones and sex-linked genetic mechanisms."

Further research is required to understand the implications of this discovery, or how it may affect therapy and nutrition for autism between girls and boys. It's clear, though, that this complex neurological condition can't be approached in broad strokes.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen
One of our new findings is that females with autism show neuroanatomical 'masculinization', – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/autism-affects-different-parts-of-the-brain-in-women-and-men#sthash.imfQ7mW8.dpuf
One of our new findings is that females with autism show neuroanatomical 'masculinization', – See more at: http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/autism-affects-different-parts-of-the-brain-in-women-and-men#sthash.imfQ7mW8.dpuf