More men than women have autism – now we may know why. Sex hormones regulate a gene linked with the condition, making it more likely that males will accumulate testosterone in the dangerous amounts that are thought to lead to autism. For every female that has autism there are four males. To better understand this sex bias, Valerie Hu at the George Washington University Medical Center in Washington DC and colleagues studied a gene implicated in autism called retinoic acid-related orphan receptor-alpha (RORA). This gene controls a molecule that switches many subsequent genes on and off.
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