In families that have more than one child with autism, the gene variations underlying each child’s disorder often differ, new research shows.
The evidence that genes are critical in autism comes, in part, from studies of families. When parents have a child with autism, they have about a one-in-five chance of having a second child affected, a previous study in the journal Pediatrics found.
It’s reasonable to expect that those two siblings would share the same autism-linked genes, [Dr. Daniel] Geschwind said. But that’s not what his team found.
…[A] likely explanation [for this discrepency], Geschwind said, is this: Siblings who lack the inherited CNV of their brother or sister may have other, harder-to-pinpoint genetic factors — such as inherited variations in a wide number of genes.
Geschwind said that his team’s findings underscore the complexity of current “genetic counseling” for autism: Even if you can tell parents of a child with autism that their second child isn’t carrying the same risk gene, that is no guarantee the child won’t develop autism.
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