It has long been known by every scientist and autism specialist that autism strikes boys more often than girls. In fact, boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism. But when girls do get autism, they tend to be at the more severely affected end of the spectrum. What has never been clear is why. But now, a group of geneticists thinks they may have figured that out.
It seems that boys can develop autism from a relatively small genetic hit. This evidence is based on a study just published in the American Journal of Human Genetics. It takes more of a genetic punch, however, to cause autism in girls—so this would explain why girls are usually worse off when they do get autism. The researchers think this same explanation holds true for the gender imbalance in ADHD, schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities.
The study also showed that the mutations behind the autism are either new ones that develop in the child or come from the parents. While the study was large and very well done, more research will need to be conducted. The more that is understood about autism, the better the autism treatment will become.