We examined the relationship between total brain volume and onset status in a large sample of 2- to 4-y-old boys and girls with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) [n = 53, no regression (nREG); n = 61, regression (REG)] and a comparison group of age-matched typically developing controls (n = 66). We also examined retrospective head circumference measurements from birth through 18 mo of age. We found that abnormal brain enlargement was most commonly found in boys with regressive autism. Brain size in boys without regression did not differ from controls. Retrospective head circumference measurements indicate that head circumference in boys with regressive autism is normal at birth but diverges from the other groups around 4–6 mo of age. There were no differences in brain size in girls with autism (n = 22, ASD; n = 24, controls). These results suggest that there may be distinct neural phenotypes associated with different onsets of autism. For boys with regressive autism, divergence in brain size occurs well before loss of skills is commonly reported. Thus, rapid head growth may be a risk factor for regressive autism.
54 percent were diagnosed with the regressive form and 46 with the non-regressive type.