Autism can be associated with quite a few factors such as family medical history, sex, or other disorders. However, do you know that women’s hormones can also play a role in the development of autism? Follow this article and you may see the relationship.
Autism and estrogen
Estrogen is a group of hormones and other chemically similar hormones including estradiol, estriol, and estrone. These hormones account for the development and maintenance of female sexual characteristics. Ovaries, fat cells and adrenal glands take responsibility for making them. Estriol is produced from the placenta during pregnancy. Estradiol is the main sex hormone formed from developing ovarian follicles. Estrone is the primary estrogen released after menopause (the time after a woman stops having periods).
A lot of studies have revealed that high levels of estrogen in the mother’s body during pregnancy can make a contribution to the development of autism in children. And if a mother gets pregnant within 3 months after delivery, the child is more likely to have autism.
Experts also believe that the greater lifetime exposure to estrogen, the higher circulating levels of those hormones. Thus, if a girl has her first occurrence of menstruation earlier, her child may have an increased risk for autism.
However, when it comes to boys and girls, estrogen in the body can affect the brain by boosting some connections between brain cells and improving brain communications.
Autism and progesterone
Progesterone is a term of hormones that produced mainly by the ovaries. It can also by made by the placenta during pregnancy. Men also have a small of amount of this class of hormones which is released by the adrenal glands. Medications such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also provide Progesterone. In women, progesterone fluctuates with menstrual cycles. During pregnancy, progesterone stimulates the uterine lining to make it thicken, preparing for the implantation of a fertilized egg. After menopause, women make less progesterone.
Progesterone may drop because of increased work load, exercises, low-calorie dieting. Low levels of progesterone during pregnancy in mothers may lead to an increased incidence of autism in children.
Autism and testosterone
Testosterone belongs to a group of male hormones called androgens but this does not mean only men can have it. Women have testosterone, too. Ovaries generate and release it into the bloodstream.
New findings show that high levels of testosterone in the uterus of the mother can be linked to the increased incidence of autism in the child. But studies are mainly conducted on boys (although a small number of girls are included) and researchers need to do more to determine if there is a similar relationship between testosterone and autism in girls.
A number of studies have been carried out to determine the relationship between autism and hormones in women. The abnormal change in hormone levels during pregnancy may be linked to the baby’s autism later in life. And further researches are needed to confirm this information.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: July 4, 2017 | Last Modified: July 4, 2017
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Whitaker-Azmitia PM, Lobel M, Moyer A.Low maternal progesterone may contribute to both obstetrical complications and autism. Med Hypotheses. 2014 Mar;82(3):313-8. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2013.12.018