Medical symptoms and conditions in autistic women.

Pohl, Alexa 
Tsompanidis, Alexandros 
Weir, Elizabeth 
Lombardo, Michael V 

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Sex-steroids, such as testosterone, are thought to be one of the biological factors implicated in autism. This relies on the sex bias in the diagnosis of autism (boys are approximately four times more likely to be diagnosed than girls) and findings of associations with fetal testosterone levels in traits and abilities related to autism. The current study aimed to examine the association between medical conditions and physical symptoms, which tend to manifest in adulthood, and autism in females. Moreover, we examined their association with autistic traits throughout the spectrum. We focused on autistic women because there is little research focusing on the healthcare needs of autistic women, but those that exist suggest heightened vulnerability, and lower access to medical care. We find that conditions related to steroid hormones function are more frequent in autistic women and that they correlate with autistic traits. Specifically, we found that body mass index, reproductive system diagnoses, prediabetes symptoms, irregular puberty onset, and menstrual irregularities were significantly more frequent in autistic women and were significantly correlated with autistic traits in neurotypical women. The findings have important implications for raising awareness in autistic women of the possibility of medical conditions which might need medical attention. In addition, healthcare providers should consider these associations when performing healthcare maintenance checks and/or screening for autism.

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autism, clinical, females, puberty, steroids, testosterone, Adult, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Body Mass Index, Female, Humans, Male, Phenotype
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SAGE Publications
Wellcome Trust (award number RG69312)
Wellcome Trust (grant number RNAG/528)
Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) (grant agreement No 777394)