Mothers found to have a natural defense against autism spectrum disorder

In schools and institutions caring for students with intellectual disabilities, it has been observed that males tend to have a higher rate of brain development disorders than females. There are usually 30-50% more males with intellectual disabilities than females and up to four times more males with autism spectrum disorder than females in these settings. While this may be good news for women, recent findings have shown that there are certain genes that give this protective ability to women, meaning this is not just a coincidence. Further research on these genes could show how preventative measures could be transferred to men and could also improve our understanding of why women are less likely to have neurodevelopmental disorders.

In a recent study led by Sébastien Jacquemont, researchers compared the presence of genes known to lower the chances of getting an intellectual disability in women and men. The researchers found that women tended to have a higher amount of genes known to prevent intellectual disorders and neurodevelopmental disorders than men did when the gene was fairly long, meaning it contained more than 400 base pairs of DNA.  If these genes create something in the human body that prevents autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities or brain development disorders, then the genes could be studied further and the ability to prevent or treat these disorders could become a viable possibility. Jacquemont stated that although it is possible that women have developed a genetic resistance to these intellectual disorders, it is also possible that men can are just sensitive to the intellectual disorders.

 

While autism spectrum disorder is not known to be entirely preventable, many other psychological disorders can be treated and prevented before they have any significant effects. If you would like to help one of your loved ones or your children with a psychological issue, the Boulder Institute of Psychotherapy and Research would be happy to help you start.

 

Original Article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002929714000597

By: Kevin Jang

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