In the largest family study on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to date, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, along with a research team from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm Sweden and King's College in London found that individual risk of ASD and autistic disorder increased with greater genetic relatedness in families that is, persons with a sibling, half-sibling or cousin diagnosed with autism have an increased likelihood of developing ASD themselves. Furthermore, the research findings showed that "environmental" factors unique to the individual (birth complications, maternal infections, etc.) were more of a determinant for ASD than previously believed.
The population-based, longitudinal study, titled "The Familial Risk of Autism," was led by Abraham Reichenberg, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and was first published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"The findings from this extensive, prospective study will help improve how we counsel families with children who suffer from ASD and autistic disorder," said Dr. Reichenberg. "Currently, ASD affects nearly one percent of all children born in the United States. This study tells us that while we continue to study the genetic risk factors associated with ASD, we should find what environmental factors may play a role as well."
ASD is defined as impairment in social interaction and communication and the presence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors; in the U.S., approximately one percent of the population is believed to have ASD. For purposes of this study, ASD included the definition for Asperger syndrome.
The study cohort comprised more than two million Swedish children born in 1982 through 2006, and included more than 1.6 million unique f
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The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine