A study published online today in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders shows that a person’s genetic predisposition to autism is more common among children who have had multiple medical conditions and more common in people who are older.
The study, which involved more than 3,500 children from a large national cohort, examined the genetic profile of children who were born between 1946 and 1990 and their siblings and parents.
The researchers looked at the genetic and environmental risks to autism and concluded that children with multiple medical histories, who were older and had a lower IQ, were more likely to have had a family history of autism and had been diagnosed with autism in the past.
The findings may be especially important in countries with high rates of autism, said lead author Sarah J. Miller, an assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.
“This study has been very important for us because we know that genetic factors are important in autism risk,” Miller said.
“The number of people who have a family diagnosis of autism is high, and the genetic factors that contribute to that are much greater than the environmental ones.”
Miller said she is currently working on a follow-up study that will be released in the coming months.
She said the study’s findings are important because they will provide insights into what might be preventing children with autism from developing the disorder.
“We’re really interested in how we can make interventions more effective and effective in those populations that we want to reach,” Miller told HealthDay.
“Our understanding of the genetic basis of autism has been limited by a limited number of studies that have been done in this area.
We need to do a lot more.”