University of Minnesota Researchers Discover Solutions to Gender Bias in Autism Diagnoses

Catherine Burrows, PhD, LP, Assistant Professor in the Division of Pediatric Clinical Behavioral Neuroscience at the Unviersity of Minnesota, was the lead author for the study done to test the sex-based bias that accompanies autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnoses. The current sex ratio shows that boys are four times as likely to have ASD then girls when using standard clinical referral processes. However, when this team of researchers tracked a group of children at higher likelihood of developing ASD from six to 60 months of age, they found that there is a 1:1 sex ratio. This indicates that there are equally as many girls equally that should be identified as having ASD-related concerns when screened early and when diagnostic instruments are corrected for sex-based bias. 

This data is very important because the current screening processes typically miss many girls who have ASD which means they do not receive important treatment in their developing years that many boys do. Many studies are done on children after they get diagnosed, but not many have been conducted about why so many girls are undiagnosed for larger portions of their lives. Focusing on unbiased evaluation and ascertainment can help address the current inequalities in identifying autism. To read the full article, follow this link. 

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