California – A recent study published by the journal Molecular Autism and made by the Stanford University School of Medicine found that Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed much less in girls compared to boys. The brain differences between girls and boys may explain why.

According to the study, girls with ASD show less severe repetitive/restrictive behaviors. Lead study author Kaustubh Supekar said that the findings “raise the possibility that girls with less prominent repetitive and restrictive behaviors may miss being tested for autism or get misclassified as social communication disorder.”

Credit: Microbes
Credit: Microbes

“On the other hand, boys with more pronounced repetitive and restrictive behaviors may show more false positives for autism spectrum disorders, given that repetitive and restricted behaviors are not specific to children with autism and are also observed in other neurodevelopmental disorders,” Supekar adds.

In other words, girls can frequently be mislabeled as autistic or get treated for a disorder they do not have, while boys with repetitive behaviors may also be mislabeled as autistic although this behavior could be a signal of other disorders.

Other results showed that there are several gender differences in brain structure between typically developing children. On the other hand, children with autism had a dissimilar set of gender differences, especially in the motor cortex of the brain.

To know which specific manifestations of autism show significant gender differences and how girl’s brains differ from that of boys, the researchers analyzed symptoms severity in a sample which consisted of 128 ASD girls and 614 ASD boys. Both groups matched in age and IQ. After that, they examined symptom severity and structural imaging data of 25 ASD girls, 25 ASD boys, 19 typically developing girls and 19 typically developing boys.

According to the statistics from Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 out of 68 children has been identified with ASD. This disorder is also five times more common among boys than among girls.

Source: Molecular Autism