Saturday August 24, 2019

Kids with Autism More Likely to Be Bullied by Both Their Siblings and Their Peers

Children with autism experience difficulties with social interaction and communication, which may have implications

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The study, published in the journal Autism and Developmental Disorders, also found that children with autism are more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of sibling bullying compared to those without autism. Pixabay

Parents, please take note. Kids with autism are more likely to be bullied by both their siblings and their peers, meaning that when they return from school, they have no respite from victimisation, warn researchers.

The study, published in the journal Autism and Developmental Disorders, also found that children with autism are more likely to be both the victims and perpetrators of sibling bullying compared to those without autism.

“Children with autism experience difficulties with social interaction and communication, which may have implications for their relationships with siblings,” said study lead author Umar Toseeb from the University of York.

“From an evolutionary perspective, siblings may be considered competitors for parental resources such as affection, attention and material goods – children with autism might get priority access to these limited parental resources leading to conflict and bullying between siblings,” he said.

Kids, Autism, Bullied
Kids with autism are more likely to be bullied by both their siblings and their peers, meaning that when they return from school, they have no respite from victimisation, warn researchers. Pixabay

The researchers used data of over 8,000 children, more than 231 of which had autism, to investigate sibling bullying.

For the findings, the children were asked questions about how often they were picked on or hurt on purpose by their siblings and peers and how often they were the perpetrators of such acts.

The study revealed that, at the age of 11 years, two thirds of children with autism reported being involved in some form of sibling bullying.

While there was a decrease in bullying for children in both groups by the time they reached the age of 14 years, children with autism were still more likely to be involved in two-way sibling bullying, as a victim and a perpetrator.

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According to the researchers, children involved in sibling bullying, irrespective of whether they had autism or not, were more likely to experience emotional and behavioural difficulties both in the long- and short-term. (IANS)

Next Story

High Levels of Oestrogen Could Cause Autism

In 2015, the researchers measured the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones, including two known as androgens

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Oestrogen, Autism, High
Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the discovery adds further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago. Pixabay

Researchers have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism.

Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, the discovery adds further evidence to support the prenatal sex steroid theory of autism first proposed 20 years ago.

In 2015, the researchers measured the levels of four prenatal steroid hormones, including two known as androgens, in the amniotic fluid in the womb and discovered that they were higher in male foetuses who later developed autism.

These androgens are produced in higher quantities in male than in female foetuses on average, so might also explain why autism occurs more often in boys. They are also known to masculinise parts of the brain and to have effects on the number of connections between brain cells.

Oestrogen, Autism, High
Researchers have identified a link between exposure to high levels of oestrogen sex hormones in the womb and the likelihood of developing autism. Pixabay

“This new finding supports the idea that increased prenatal sex steroid hormones are one of the potential causes for the condition. Genetics is well established as another, and these hormones likely interact with genetic factors to affect the developing foetal brain,” said study lead author Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor at the University of Cambridge.

Now, the same scientists have built on their previous findings by testing the amniotic fluid samples from the same 98 individuals sampled from the Danish Biobank, which has collected amniotic samples from over 100,000 pregnancies, but this time looking at another set of prenatal sex steroid hormones called oestrogens.

This is an important next step because some of the hormones previously studied are directly converted into oestrogens. All four oestrogens were significantly elevated, on average, in the 98 foetuses who later developed autism, compared to the 177 foetuses who did not.

High levels of prenatal oestrogens were even more predictive of the likelihood of autism than were high levels of prenatal androgens (such as testosterone).

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Contrary to popular belief that associates oestrogens with feminisation, prenatal oestrogens have effects on brain growth and also masculinise the brain in many mammals.

“This finding is exciting because the role of oestrogens in autism has hardly been studied and we hope that we can learn more about how they contribute to foetal brain development in further experiments. We still need to see whether the same result holds in autistic females,” said Alexa Pohl from the University of Cambridge. (IANS)