Genes make up about 80 percent of a child's risk of developing autism. This is revealed in a population study that includes over two million people from five different countries and that went over 16 years.

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This is stated in an article on the Norwegian research news website, forskning.no.

 

Inheritance is a big part of the cause of autism

They write further:

Researchers and parents have long been looking for answers to what causes autism, a diagnosis that occurs in about one percent of the population, according to Oslo University Hospital.

The list of possible causes has been long. Previous studies have examined environmental impacts such as air pollution, smoking and vaccines.

Now an international group of researchers concludes that 80 percent of people's risk of developing autism comes from genes.

 

Over two million people participated in the study

Forskning.no refers here to the study published in JAMA Psychiatry 

One of the researchers behind the study is Sven Sandin, who is a statistician and epidemiologist at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. He told Huffington Post:

We found that genetic factors were the most important [explaning factor for development of autism].

Forskning.no elaborates on the findings: 

Sandin and his colleagues analyzed population data from the five countries. Of the two million people included in the study, more than 22 had a diagnosis of autism.

Both environmental factors and heredity were assessed in the study, and of these, in other words, genetics was by far the strongest predictor of developing autism.

 

Supports previous findings

An earlier meta-study summarizing findings from twin studies showed that the heritability of autism is in the range between 64% and 91%. Researchers have long been aware that autism is due to heredity. However, this new study emphasizes the importance of genes, and has some strengths that make their findings particularly reliable.

Forskning.no writes about this:

The new thing about this latest study is the size and duration: two million people and a period of 16 years.

In addition, forskning.no writes: 

Being aware of family history and how it affects the risk of autism can help parents, daycare staff, and physicians detect early signs of autism in their child.

 

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Written by

ove heradstveit

Ove Heradstveit

Psychologist, specialist in clinical community psychology. PhD.
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