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

Jane E. Roberts, Megan A. Clarke, Kaitlyn Alcorn, John C. Carter, Anna C.J. Long, Walter E. Kaufmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-291
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Cortisol
  • Fragile X
  • Social anxiety
  • Social approach

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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