Environment may play a greater role in autism than genetics

Environment may play a greater role in autism than genetics

A new study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford has suggested that autism may be more linked to environmental factors than genetic determinants.

Published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, the study examined 192 pairs of twins in California, using a mathematical model to conclude that genetics account for 38 per cent of autism risk, compared with 62 per cent for environmental factors.

"We're not trying to say there isn't a genetic component - quite the opposite," said Neil Risch, director of the USCF Institute for Human Genetics.

"But for most individuals with autism spectrum disorder, it's not simply a genetic cause."

In another study, published in the same issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers found that mothers who take antidepressants during pregnancy experience a moderately higher risk of having a child with autism.

It is believed to be the first study to make a link between autism and antidepressants.

Find out about Barchester's support for adults and children with a wide range of autistic spectrum conditions.