Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 12, pp 3983–3993 | Cite as

Typical Pubertal Timing in an Australian Population of Girls and Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Tamara May
  • Ken C. Pang
  • Michele A. O’Connell
  • Katrina Williams
Original Paper

Abstract

Secondary data analyses from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Kindergarten cohort were performed to understand any alterations in pubertal timing in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in a population sample. Timing of parent-reported pubertal events (ages 8–9, 10–11, 12–13 years), and self-report (14–15 years; N = 3454 no ASD, N = 94 with ASD) included breast development, menses, skin changes, growth spurt, body hair, deepening voice and facial hair. Survival analyses and Cox regression controlling for covariates showed no evidence of altered pubertal onset amongst males with ASD. In contrast to some past studies, there was also no difference in pubertal timing in females with ASD. These exploratory findings suggest typical puberty timing in a population representative group of young people with ASD.

Keywords

Autism Spectrum Disorder Puberty Adrenarche 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article uses confidential unit record files from the LSAC survey. The LSAC was initiated and funded by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs and was managed by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The findings and views reported in this article are those of the authors and should not be attributed to either the Commonwealth Department of Families, Housing, Community Services, and Indigenous Affairs, or the Australian Institute of Family Studies. We thank all the families participating in the LSAC study. We wish to thank the William Collie Trust, University of Melbourne, and the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Charitable Trust, for their support of authors Dr May and Professor Williams, and the Melbourne Children’s Clinician Scientist Fellowship scheme for its support of Dr Pang.

Author Contributions

TM conceived of the secondary analysis and drafted the manuscript and performed the statistical analysis; KP, KW, and MO participated in the interpretation of the data and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

References

  1. Abrahams, B. S., & Geschwind, D. H. (2008). Advances in autism genetics: On the threshold of a new neurobiology. Nature Reviews Genetics, 9(5), 341–355.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publications.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). 2033.0. 55.001-Census of Population and Housing: Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), Australia, 2011. Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics Canberra.Google Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen, S. (2002). The extreme male brain theory of autism. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6(6), 248–254.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Dunn, L., & Dunn, L. (1997). Peabody picture vocabulary test. (3rd ed.). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.Google Scholar
  6. Ellis, B. J. (2004). Timing of pubertal maturation in girls: An integrated life history approach. Psychological Bulletin, 130(6), 920.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Falter, C. M., Plaisted, K. C., & Davis, G. (2008). Visuo-spatial processing in autism—testing the predictions of extreme male brain theory. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(3), 507–515.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gillberg, C., & Schaumann, H. (1982). Infantile autism and puberty. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 11(4), 365–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gillberg, C., & Steffenburg, S. (1987). Outcome and prognostic factors in infantile autism and similar conditions: A population-based study of 46 cases followed through puberty. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 17(2), 273–287.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Gilmour, L., Schalomon, P. M., & Smith, V. (2012). Sexuality in a community based sample of adults with autism spectrum disorder. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 6(1), 313–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Graber, J. A., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Warren, M. P. (1995). The antecedents of menarcheal age: heredity, family environment, and stressful life events. Child Development, 66(2), 346–359.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Harper, J., & Collins, J. (1979). Physical growth and development in a sample of autistic girls from New South Wales. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 15(2), 110–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hergüner, A., & Hergüner, S. (2016). Association between age at menarche and autistic traits in Turkish university students. American Journal of Human Biology, 28(1), 44–47.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Ingudomnukul, E., Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., & Knickmeyer, R. (2007). Elevated rates of testosterone-related disorders in women with autism spectrum conditions. Hormones and Behavior, 51(5), 597–604.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Karapanou, O., & Papadimitriou, A. (2010). Determinants of menarche. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 8(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Knickmeyer, R. C., Wheelwright, S., Hoekstra, R., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2006). Age of menarche in females with autism spectrum conditions. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 48(12), 1007–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kung, K. T., Spencer, D., Pasterski, V., Neufeld, S., Glover, V., O’Connor, T. G.,. .. Hines, M. (2016). No relationship between prenatal androgen exposure and autistic traits: Convergent evidence from studies of children with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and of amniotic testosterone concentrations in typically developing children. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(12), 1455–1462.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Lundström, S., Reichenberg, A., Anckarsäter, H., Lichtenstein, P., & Gillberg, C. (2015). Autism phenotype versus registered diagnosis in Swedish children: Prevalence trends over 10 years in general population samples. BMJ (Clinical Research ed.), 350, h1961.Google Scholar
  19. Mensah, F. K., Bayer, J. K., Wake, M., Carlin, J. B., Allen, N. B., & Patton, G. C. (2013). Early puberty and childhood social and behavioral adjustment. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), 118–124.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mouridsen, S. E., & Larsen, F. W. (1989). Pervasive developmental disorder and idiopathic precocious puberty in a 5-year-old girl. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 19(2), 351–353.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Parent, A.-S., Teilmann, G., Juul, A., Skakkebaek, N. E., Toppari, J., & Bourguignon, J.-P. (2003). The timing of normal puberty and the age limits of sexual precocity: Variations around the world, secular trends, and changes after migration. Endocrine Reviews, 24(5), 668–693.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Pasterski, V., Gilligan, L., & Curtis, R. (2014). Traits of autism spectrum disorders in adults with gender dysphoria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(2), 387–393.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Petersen, A. C., Crockett, L., Richards, M., & Boxer, A. (1988). A self-report measure of pubertal status: Reliability, validity, and initial norms. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 17(2), 117–133.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Pohl, A., Cassidy, S., Auyeung, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2014). Uncovering steroidopathy in women with autism: A latent class analysis. Molecular Autism, 5(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Randall, M., Sciberras, E., Brignell, A., Ihsen, E., Efron, D., Dissanayake, C., & Williams, K. (2016). Autism spectrum disorder: Presentation and prevalence in a nationally representative Australian sample. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 50(3), 243–253.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Sedlmeyer, I. L., & Palmert, M. R. (2002). Delayed puberty: Analysis of a large case series from an academic center. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 87(4), 1613–1620.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Soliman, A., De Sanctis, V., & Elalaily, R. (2014). Nutrition and pubertal development. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 18(Suppl 1), S39-S47. doi:  10.4103/2230-8210.145073.PubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Soloff, C., Lawrence, D., Misson, S., Johnstone, R., & Slater, J. (2006). Wave 1 weighting and non-response. LSAC Technical Paper, 3.Google Scholar
  29. Tordjman, S., Ferrari, P., Sulmont, V., Duyme, M., & Roubertoux, P. (1997). Androgenic activity in autism. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(11), 1626a–1627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Warnell, F., George, B., McConachie, H., Johnson, M., Hardy, R., & Parr, J. (2015). Designing and recruiting to UK autism spectrum disorder research databases: Do they include representative children with valid ASD diagnoses? BMJ Open, 5(9), e008625.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  31. Wechsler, D. (2003). Wechsler intelligence scale for children–Fourth Edition (WISC-IV). San Antonio, TX: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
  32. Whitehouse, A. J., Mattes, E., Maybery, M. T., Dissanayake, C., Sawyer, M., Jones, R. M., ... Hickey, M. (2012). Perinatal testosterone exposure and autistic-like traits in the general population: A longitudinal pregnancy-cohort study. Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, 4(1), 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Whitehouse, A. J., Maybery, M. T., Hart, R., Mattes, E., Newnham, J. P., Sloboda, D. M., ... Hickey, M. (2010). Fetal androgen exposure and pragmatic language ability of girls in middle childhood: Implications for the extreme male-brain theory of autism. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 35(8), 1259–1264.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Whitehouse, A. J., Maybery, M. T., Hickey, M., & Sloboda, D. M. (2011). Brief report: autistic-like traits in childhood predict later age at menarche in girls. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(8), 1125–1130.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Willemsen, R. H., & Dunger, D. B. (2015). Normal Variation in Pubertal Timing: Genetic Determinants in Relation to Growth and Adiposity Puberty from Bench to Clinic (Vol. 29, pp. 17–35): Basel: Karger Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Yoshimura, K., Naiki, Y., Horikawa, R., & Tanaka, T. (2005). Three patients with autism and central precocious puberty. Clinical Pediatric Endocrinology, 14(Supplement24), S24_55–S24_57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamara May
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Ken C. Pang
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  • Michele A. O’Connell
    • 3
    • 7
  • Katrina Williams
    • 2
    • 3
    • 8
  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical ResearchParkvilleAustralia
  5. 5.Department of Adolescent MedicineRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  6. 6.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  7. 7.Department of Endocrinology & DiabetesRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  8. 8.Developmental Medicine Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia

Personalised recommendations