Exposure to higher levels of fetal estrogen in the uterus would be linked to higher chances of developing autism according to a study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge.
The study began in 2015 when scientists at the English University, in collaboration with the Swedish Statens Serum, began to analyze the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones present in amniotic fluid in the uterus. Long-term analysis has allowed us to discover the connection between the high levels of these hormones and the autism developed by children. The researchers found that the highest levels in male fetuses were present in which children then developed autism once they were born.
In particular, the connection was stronger against the androgenic hormones. The latter, which also plays a role in the number of connections between brain cells, are produced mostly in male fetuses rather than in female fetuses and this would explain, according to the press release published on the University website, also because autism is more contracted by male children.
Researchers noted that all four estrogens existed at higher levels, on average, in fetuses that then developed autism than fetuses they did not develop.
Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, states in the press release: “This new discovery supports the idea that an increase in prenatal steroid hormones is one of the potential causes of the condition.”
According to the scientist, these hormones probably influence the development of the brain of the fetus by acting on genetics.