Autism caused by stress mother feels during pregnancy?


A study of 100 children indicate that children exposed to high levels of testosterone in utero (due to the mothers’ stress during the pregnancy) tend to have behavior consistant with ASD.

A stress-free pregnancy can deliver a popular child
by TAHIRA YAQOOB, Daily Mail

10:03am 9th November 2005

Stress free mum: ensures a happy child

All mothers-to-be wonder what kind of adult their baby will become.
Will their child grow into a sociable creature, for instance, bonding easily with others? Or will he or she struggle to make friends?

Scientists now believe they have discovered the key to ensuring a child’s success in forming relationships – their mother must avoid stress while pregnant.

Stressed mothers-to-be produce more of the male hormone testosterone, thought to be responsible for poor people and communication skills and even the condition autism.

So the secret to having a more sociable baby is to relax during pregnancy, say researchers.

The impact of stress on babies in the womb from as early as 13 weeks is thought to be so great it can lead to children being slower at picking up language skills, finding it harder to form relationships and being more inclined to develop obsessional traits.

In the extreme, they could show symptoms of autism, a neurological condition characterised by a difficulty in developing relationships and being obsessed with routine.

Foetuses produce testosterone naturally but are also affected by levels of the hormone in the surrounding amniotic fluid which come from the mother.

Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, director of Cambridge University’s autism research centre, revealed his findings yesterday at a conference in London examining whether women made better leaders.

His team studied 100 children, from early in the womb to the age of seven, to see how testosterone levels have affected their development.

They found that even 24 hours after being born, boys – who have up to ten times as much testosterone as girls – were showing less interest in people and more interest in mechanical objects than females.

At 12 months, babies with higher levels of the hormone in the womb had poor eye contact with their parents.

And at 18 months, children with high pre-natal testosterone could not talk or had a limited vocabulary while other youngsters spoke up to 600 words.

When they started school, children with higher levels were finding it more difficult to socialise.

Professor Baron-Cohen said while testosterone was partly genetic, it was also present in fluctuating amounts in the amniotic fluid.

He added: “The mother’s level of stress is a factor in the testosterone level and makes it go up. We do not know what percentage of that level is genetic.

“What we do know is that the higher the level in the womb, the slower children are at making eye contact and developing language.

“Less testosterone means better human relationships. The differences may become even clearer as the children in our study get older.”

3 thoughts on “Autism caused by stress mother feels during pregnancy?”


    • Firebrains on October 30, 2015

      Interesting, but why is it always the mothers fault?

    • dor1107 on August 21, 2016

      so if you’re pregnant, don’t be stressed! just relax and don’t worry about a thing, even though your life is about to completely change when you bring another human into the world. if you get stressed, you could make your child have Asperger’s. Oops, did reading that make you stressed? Soooorrry!

    • ElizabethInDallas on May 19, 2017

      OH my you guys real a LOT into this. Nowhere does it *blame* the moms.. it expresses the urgent need for a stress-free pregnancy. Nobody is a victim.. we all have choices. If you’re pregnant and in a stressful environment, change what you can. They said an undetermined amount was genetic.

      If anything it points out to me how our society fails moms in general, and demonstrates how much pregnant mothers need society’s (and their mate’s, where applicable) support.

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