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Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gender Dysphoria
Twin Epidemics of Concordant Neuropsychiatric Disease
By Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH
The CDC indicates that 1 in 36 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network. This represents a sharp increase up from 1 in 10,000 in 1970. There has also been a less well delineated rise in gender dysphoria (GD) which is driving the clinical development of transgender medicine.
A natural question is: could ASD and GD be linked? While the epidemiology of both conditions is not well developed, several papers have reviewed the available evidence and have found a link. Van Der Miesen et al, in a narrative review concluded that about 20% of GD patients indeed have ASD.
When large, well performed epidemiological studies are completed it would not be a surprise if ASD is found to be an independent risk factor for GD. More complex analyses will be needed to understand if both conditions, which co-exist, have common pathophysiological determinants.
So the next time there is a news story on transgender rights, surgical advancement, hormone therapy, and psychological outcomes, keep in mind that autism is likely playing a role in the interpretation of what is portrayed to the public.
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Van Der Miesen AI, Hurley H, De Vries AL. Gender dysphoria and autism spectrum disorder: A narrative review. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2016;28(1):70-80. doi: 10.3109/09540261.2015.1111199. Epub 2016 Jan 12. PMID: 26753812.