New Findings on the ‘Female Protective Effect’ From Autism

Boys are considerably more likely than girls to have autism, but scientists have not fully understood the imbalance. According to a recent study led by Elise Robinson, an instructor in analytic and translational genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, females need to have more familial risk factors to manifest autistic behaviors. Researchers compared the siblings of two groups: girls who fell into the top 10th percentile of autistic behaviors and their male counterparts.

The study found that siblings of girls above the 90th percentile had significantly more autistic impairments than the siblings of boys in the same group. The results provide empirical support for the hypothesis of a female protective effect against autistic behavior, although Robinson noted that it’s possible that autism manifests differently in girls. The next step is figuring out what protects girls from autism. Robinson noted that it’s possible that autism in girls manifest differently.