Environment, genes equally at play in autism

Environmental factors are more important than previously thought in leading to autism, as big a factor as genes, according to the largest analysis to date to look at how the brain disorder runs in families.

Sven Sandin, who worked on the study at King’s College London and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute, said it was prompted “by a very basic question which parents often ask: ‘If I have a child with autism, what is the risk my next child will too?’”

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest heritability is only half the story, with the other 50 per cent explained by environmental factors such as birth complications, socio-economic status, or parental health and lifestyle.

The study also found that children with a brother or sister with autism are 10 times more likely to develop the condition, three times if they have a half-brother or half-sister with autism, and twice as likely if they have a cousin with autism.

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Read the full, original story: Environment as important as genetics in autism: study

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