Assessing autism in females: The importance of a sex-specific comparison

Lundström, S., Mårland, C., Kuja-Halkola, R., Anckarsäter, H., Lichtenstein, P., Gillberg, C. and Nilsson, T. (2019) Assessing autism in females: The importance of a sex-specific comparison. Psychiatry Research, 282, 112566. (doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2019.112566) (PMID:31558402)

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed more often in boys than girls. Here, we compared the degree of autism - and related disorders - symptomatology in boys and girls with a registered diagnosis of ASD. We used parent telephone interview A-TAC (Autism-Tics, ADHD and other Comorbidities) ratings of 30,392 twins aged 9 or 12 (including 308 boys and 122 girls with National Patient Register diagnoses of ASD) participating in the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden. We used z-scores for ASD-symptoms, standardized separately for boys and girls. Boys with a diagnosis of ASD had a higher raw mean score than girls with a diagnosis on the A-TAC ASD domain. However, utilizing the z-scores, girls with a diagnosis of ASD deviated further away from the female population mean than did the boys with ASD from the male population mean. Girls also had higher standardized mean values for symptoms of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Learning Disabilities and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The findings suggest that girls diagnosed with autism may represent an even more extreme end of the female population autistic features distribution, than diagnosed boys from the male population autistic features distribution. Future studies may benefit from examining the use of sex-specific cut-off scores.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:The Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden study is supported by the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, the Söderström-König Foundation, and the Swedish Research Council (Medicine, SIMSAM, Humanities and Social Science; grant number 2017-02552). Funding was also received from Torsten Söderberg Foundation (Dnr M151/14). This study received no specific funding.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gillberg, Professor Christopher
Authors: Lundström, S., Mårland, C., Kuja-Halkola, R., Anckarsäter, H., Lichtenstein, P., Gillberg, C., and Nilsson, T.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Psychiatry Research
ISSN (Online):1872-7123
Published Online:13 September 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Psychiatry Research 282:112566
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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