A new study says that children born to women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may be more likely to develop autism.
PCOS is a condition which results in delaying onset of puberty, irregular menstrual cycles and excess bodily hair. This is caused by high testosterone.
There is a 2.3 per cent increased chance of having an autistic child in women with PCOS.
Autistic children have elevated levels of “sex steroid” hormones including testosterone which “masculinise” the baby’s body and brain. In the case of women with PCOS, the level of testosterone is higher than usual, then some of the hormone might cross the placenta during pregnancy. Increased exposure to this may change the baby’s brain development.
The study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.
The team analysed data from 8,588 women with PCOS and their first-born children, compared to a group of 41,127 women without PCOS.