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Brief Report: Autistic Traits in Mothers and Children Associated with Child’s Gender Nonconformity


We examined relationships between autistic traits in children, mothers, and fathers and gender nonconformity (GNC) in children using data from the Nurses’ Health Study II and the Growing Up Today Study 1. Autistic traits of mothers, fathers and children were measured using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). GNC in children was measured using questions from the Recalled Childhood Gender Identity/Gender Role Questionnaire. In multivariable analyses increase in child’s SRS score was associated with increased odds (OR 1.35; p = 0.03) of being in a higher GNC category. Increase in maternal SRS score was also associated with increased odds (OR 1.46; p = 0.005) of the child being in a higher GNC category. Paternal SRS scores were not related to child’s GNC category.

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Autism spectrum disorder


Gender nonconformity


Nurses’ Health Study II


Growing Up Today Study 1


Social Responsiveness Scale


Interquartile range


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The Nurses’ Health Study II and the Growing Up Today Study are ongoing studies conducted at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard School of Public Health, and Harvard Medical School. The work reported in this manuscript was supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH) Grants CA50385, T32MH073124-08, P60AR047782, HD057368, and R01ES017-04, Autism Speaks Grants 1788 and 2210, the United States Department of Defense Grant W81XWH-08-1-0499, and the United States Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC) Grant A-14917. D. E. Shumer is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 1T32HD075727-01. S.B. Austin is supported by the Leadership Education in Adolescent Health Project, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, HRSA 6T71-MC00009.

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Correspondence to S. Bryn Austin.

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Shumer, D.E., Roberts, A.L., Reisner, S.L. et al. Brief Report: Autistic Traits in Mothers and Children Associated with Child’s Gender Nonconformity. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 1489–1494 (2015).

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  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Gender
  • Gender identity
  • Gender nonconformity
  • Transgender