New study links PCOS and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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If you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, (or PCOS), you are 59 percent more likely to give birth to a child with autism spectrum disorder according to a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry in December.
“Women with PCOS have increased levels of androgens in their bodies compared to women without PCOS, even during pregnancy,” Kyriaki Kosidou, a psychiatrist and researcher at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and lead author of the study. Those androgens could subtly influence the fetus’s developing brain and nervous system, Kosidou said.
“The risk was even higher among women with PCOS who were also obese, perhaps because overweight women with PCOS tend to have even higher androgen levels than average-weight women with the disorder.”
Kosidou cautioned that the link between early life androgen exposure and ASD is still unclear and that women with PCOS shouldn’t worry extensively about their children’s health.
“While we did observe an increased risk for ASD, it was a modest increase for a relatively rare disorder,” she said. “Chances are that children born to a mother with PCOS will not develop autism.”
“It is too early to make specific recommendations to clinicians in terms of care for pregnant women with PCOS, though increased awareness of this relationship might facilitate earlier detection of ASD in children whose mothers have been diagnosed with PCOS,” says Renee Gardner, senior investigator on the study, also at the Department of Public Health Sciences.
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