Causes Of Autism Spectrum Disorders: Growth Hormone In Boys

Is Head Size Important in ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Does head size count? Boys on the autism spectrum seem to have large head circumferences.
Does head size count? Boys on the autism spectrum seem to have large head circumferences. | Source

Head Size and Hormone Levels

In 2007, some very interesting information was revealed in a study conducted by several leading American research entities, two of them in Ohio:

  • National Institutes of Health,
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
  • Cincinnati Children's Hospital, and
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

In short, the boys in this study that experienced autism/Asperger's had higher levels of growth hormone, had larger heads, had longer, thinner bones; and were heavier than boys of like age and body type that were not on the autism spectrum..

NOTES:

At the same time, the University of Wisconsin reports that Retts Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD) occurs at a much higher rate among girls than boys.

Thus, not all "autisms" are of higher incidence among boys. The fact is also found that in 10% of cases, Autism happens because of something unrelated to the womb and genetics.

The autistic brain is, on average, larger and heavier than a "normal" brain.

Stem Cell Treatment

Not Only Testosterone?

These results tend to duplicate findings of previous research that found extremely rapid early head growth in infants that were later diagnosed with autism. The circumference of their heads were larger than like infants of age and size that did not appear to be ion the autism spectrum and were not diagosed with ASD..

The researches of the current, later study revealed that boys with autism showed significantly higher levels of two hormones that regulate growth, called insulin-like growth factors 1 and 2. They also showed higher levels of other hormones and these were related to growth as well. (See video below).

Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 - Diet Problems

The spectrum of Autism Disorders creates significant diversity among their  people.  Growth hormone may be one cause of some ASD, but a whole spectrum of causes is also possible.
The spectrum of Autism Disorders creates significant diversity among their people. Growth hormone may be one cause of some ASD, but a whole spectrum of causes is also possible. | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
In one experiment, autistic boys were found to have longer, thinner bones that those without autism, but they were also heavier in body weight. This could cause a problem with fractures in the future.Is diet a factor? We are unsure.
In one experiment, autistic boys were found to have longer, thinner bones that those without autism, but they were also heavier in body weight. This could cause a problem with fractures in the future.
In one experiment, autistic boys were found to have longer, thinner bones that those without autism, but they were also heavier in body weight. This could cause a problem with fractures in the future. | Source
Is diet a factor? We are unsure.
Is diet a factor? We are unsure. | Source

Findings and Results

While there was no difference in average height between the two groups of boys (71 with autism and 59 without), the autistic group of boys was significantly the heavier body weight of the two groups.

The autistic group was not maturing more quickly, as confirmed by bone assessments, but its male members weighed heavier. Neither were they taller, just heavier. What was causing this and could the cause be related to hormone production and/or levels?

This research may show that in addition to testosterone, additional hormones, such as growth hormones, are at higher levels in the bodies of autistic boys. This would account for heavier body weight. However, testosterone was, in fact. not measured in this research.

Not enough girls with autism spectrum disorders could be found to participate in this particular study. However, we know that females do have these ASD disorders and must not be ignored.

Note: There is also evidence that bones of autistic boys are longer and thinner than those of non-autistic boys, because of calcium and Vitamin D deficiency from lack of dairy products in the diet. Many children on the autism spectrum insist on eating only certain foods on a daily basis and very often, not milk or its related products.

Reference materials: NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2007, June 27). Boys With Autism, Related Disorders, Have High Levels Of Growth Hormones.

Self-Description of a Teen with Asperger's, One of the ASDs

The National Autistic Society of the UK

The NAS or National Autistic Society of the UK has long examined with wonder the higher incidence of Autism, Asperger's, and Autism Spectrum Disorders among boys than in girls. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the world felt that these disorders were the purview of males only. We were all wrong.

According to three sets of ASD researchers: Attwood (2000), Ehlers and Gillberg (1993), and Wing (1981), girls with Asperger's Syndrome are often not ever seen by a doctor for the condition. No one in their environments seems to notice anything "wrong" or non-average about these young females. Perhaps no one is looking.

In fact, these girls are probably simply written off as more quiet and reserved than other girls. They are felt to be "less disruptive", which teachers see as a good thing. Parents might also like that quality.

Scientists think that these Asperger's girls, who have better verbal skills, can mask their ASD conditions with those skills. This makes sense. In fact, research completed by Skuse in 2001 found that science may consider Asperger's syndrome as the far end of the "maleness" side of the gender spectrum. Maleness = best and female = worst in many societies. Therefore, a female that seems more "male" may be more highly valued - or less tormented and disrespected by society. At the same time, they may be more ignored as being "strong silent types" or "more intelligent because they are quiet" and other superstitions.

Back in 1987, researchers Lord and Schopler listed many potential genetic processes that may result in autism besides an X chromosome anomaly, including non-sex-linked chromosomes. It is felt overall, that many genes and chromosomes may yet be found to account for the range of behaviors and disorders along the Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) continuum. As of 2013, the definitions and diagnostic criteria for ASD changed: see Autism and Asperger's.

Adulthood - Autism In the Workplace

© 2008 Patty Inglish

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Comments 4 comments

funnebone profile image

funnebone 8 years ago from Philadelphia Pa

Great article. Would this then lead to the conclusion that the increased hormones used in food production is a factor?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I doubt it, since they are not resulting in genetic mutation in humans consuming them. The hormones levels are more likley arising from the actions of human genes, or in 10% of cases, some outside stimulus after birth (it was found that not all identical twins in a large study were autistic, even if their own twin was).

I am not "for" using hormones in our food production, though. Not healthy, imo, to ingest that. I would suspect it to cause stomach and intestinal cancer. Insulin-like growth factor 1 may stimulate cancer.   


Georgiakevin profile image

Georgiakevin 8 years ago from Central Georgia

This is well researched and well written. As an educator who is part of an education team that helps students who are autistic among other moderate to profound disablities, I am more than just interested in this area. As the number of people who are autistic have increased I have wondered if one of the biggest challenges for researchers to face isn't that there may be more than one cause for autism but with a common or similar thread. Please keep writing hub pages like this one!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Hello Georgiakevin!

From my looking about in the OSU Medical school, I believe that Autism Sepcrtrum Disorder(s) may overlap some degrees of ADD/ADHD, which in turn are related to Tourettes and some cases of OCD (obsessive-compulsive).

I think you are right about that similar thread! I'll summarize some of the data I have found and post it for this request - Asosication of Autism & ADD/ADHD or something similar. Find the thread, and we can find the cures. Stem cell injections already work in some cases.

Thanks very much for posting and please share more in future. :)

  

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