A recent study indicates there may be a link between mothers with maternal polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and the development of an autism spectrum disorder in her children.
According to the study’s lead researcher, Kyriaki Kosidou from the Karolinska Instituet in Sweden, children from a mother with PCOS have a 59% increased risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder than those born from a woman without PCOS.
PCOS is a condition characterized by elevated testosterone levels, irregular menstrual cycles, and ovarian cysts. Obesity is commonly associated with the condition as well. The linkage between the development of autism and maternal PCOS is thought to be due to the increased testosterone levels during pregnancy. Additionally, when a woman has both PCOS and obesity, there is an even higher association with the development of autism. Autism is more common in males than females, however the link with maternal PCOS was not significantly different between the sexes.
While this study does show a very interesting connection, it does not explain the underlying mechanism. Further research is necessary to determine the clinical significance of these findings.