Sex Differences in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Identified Within a High-Risk Infant Cohort
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Sex differences were examined in 3-year-olds with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) ascertained from a high-risk cohort, and high- and low-risk comparison groups. Participants included 319 high-risk siblings and 129 low-risk controls. Eighty-five siblings were diagnosed with ASD, including 57 of 176 boys (32.4 %) and 28 of 143 girls (19.6 %), implying a relative odds of ASD of 1.65 in boys versus girls. There were modest sex differences on cognitive and adaptive skills and ASD symptom severity at age 3, but differences between boys and girls with ASD mirrored those in the non-ASD groups. The lower than expected male-to-female ratio, and the relatively high cognitive level among diagnosed children, suggest that we have identified an unanticipated number of higher-functioning girls with ASD.
KeywordsAutism Early diagnosis Sex differences Infants Longitudinal study
This research project was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Autism Speaks Canada and NeuroDevNet. Dr. Zwaigenbaum is supported by the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair in Autism Research and by a Health Scholar Award from the Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions. Dr. Bryson, is supported by the Jack and Joan Craig Chair in Autism Research, Dr. Szatmari is supported by the Chedoke Health Chair in Child Psychiatry, and Dr. Vaillancourt is supported by a Canada Research Chair in Children’s Mental Health and Violence Protection. We would like also like to thank the children and families who have participated in this project.
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