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J Neurodev Disord. 2009 Dec;1(4):283-91. doi: 10.1007/s11689-009-9028-5. Epub 2009 Aug 19.

Autistic behavior in boys with fragile X syndrome: social approach and HPA-axis dysfunction.

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Department of Psychology, Barnwell College University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC, USA.


The primary goal of this study was to examine environmental and neuroendocrine factors that convey increased risk for elevated autistic behavior in boys with Fragile X syndrome (FXS). This study involves three related analyses: (1) examination of multiple dimensions of social approach behaviors and how they vary over time, (2) investigation of mean levels and modulation of salivary cortisol levels in response to social interaction, and (3) examination of the relationship of social approach and autistic behaviors to salivary cortisol. Poor social approach and elevated baseline and regulation cortisol are discernible traits that distinguish boys with FXS and ASD from boys with FXS only and from typically developing boys. In addition, blunted cortisol change is associated with increased severity of autistic behaviors only within the FXS and ASD group. Boys with FXS and ASD have distinct behavioral and neuroendocrine profiles that differentiate them from those with FXS alone and typically developing boys.

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