In another sign pointing to an inherited component to autism, a study released yesterday found that having a schizophrenic parent or a mother with psychiatric problems roughly doubled a child's risk of being autistic.
“Our research shows that mothers and fathers diagnosed with schizophrenia were about twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism,” said Julie Daniels of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who worked on the study.
“We also saw higher rates of depression and personality disorders among mothers, but not fathers,” she said in a statement.
The study of families in Sweden with children born between 1977 and 2003 involved 1,227 children diagnosed with autism.
They were compared with families of nearly 31,000 children who did not have autism. Sweden’s detailed health registry provides a wealth of data for such studies.
Autism, which is marked by impaired social interaction and communication, or a related disorder like Asperger’s syndrome, affects an estimated one out of every 150 U.S. children, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. Asperger's is marked by mild social awkwardness.
Some autism advocates believe childhood vaccinations play a role.
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