Individual differences in early language development, and in later language functioning, are associated with changes in the anatomy of the brain in autism.
Adults with the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome are significantly more likely to experience suicidal thoughts than people from the UK general population, according to the first large-scale clinical study of its kind.
Children who later develop autism are exposed to elevated levels of steroid hormones (for example testosterone, progesterone and cortisol) in the womb, according to scientists from the University of Cambridge and the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. The finding may help explain why autism is more common in males than females. However, the researchers caution it should not be used to screen for the condition.
Scientists have confirmed that variations in a particular gene play a key role in the autism spectrum condition known as Asperger Syndrome. They have also found that variations in the same gene are also linked to differences in empathy levels in the general population.
Cambridge researchers are pioneering a new test for autism in the womb, by measuring the levels of testosterone produced by the foetus, which makes its way into the amniotic fluid. They hope to test if children who later develop autism have unusually high levels of testosterone between 12 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.