Yale researchers studying autism in girls hoping to unlock universal clues for all

Health

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Most research on autism has been done on boys because they make up for the largest percentage of cases. Boys are four times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism; one in every 34 boys according to the CDC.

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine‘s Child Study Center are now also looking at girls, trying to determine where the condition develops in their brains.

Research shows girls have a so-called “female protective effect” making them more resilient against developing autism.

“They need a bigger genetic hit to actually develop the condition and so obviously we would all love to know if there are such factors and what are they because can we at all leverage them in some way and exploit them in terms of treatments,” said Dr. Abha Gupta, a physician and neuroscientist.

WEB EXTRA: Full interview with Dr. Abna Gupta

Scientists are using genome sequencing frequently. Dr. Gupta says it was once thought there were about a dozen genes involved in autism. She says research shows that hundreds of genes could be involved.

“Once we figure out the neurobiology of those genes, then we might be able to find targets for treatment, and so that’s our ultimate goal is to find targets for treatment.”

Researchers work on the genetics of autism as well as other factors.

“I believe any human geneticist would probably tell you there are environmental triggers as well and we just don’t know them very well. There might be an interaction between genetics and environmental triggers that causes autism in any one person,” said Dr. Gupta.

The Yale Child Study Center is always looking for more families to take part in their studies and gene sequencing.

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