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Autism Risk Doubles When Parent Has Mental Illness?

Advocates and scientists may differ in their thoughts of what causes autism, which is now said to affect an estimated one in 150 American children, but both sides seem passionate about finding a cure.

A recent study is shedding some light on the notion that genes and environment may have something to do with the brain development disorder that impairs communication and social interaction. To see the findings,


A MSNBC article on the findings said:

"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.

It remains unclear as to whether a mother suffering from mental illness has more bearing than if the father does.

It also said:

The association between a child's autism and mental illness in the parent was strongest with schizophrenia, and was less powerful when the mother suffered from depression or personality disorders. There was little association between autism and parental addiction to alcohol or drugs or some other types of mental illness.


Join The Conversation
Shadrap Shadrap 9 years
My husband has 7 siblings. One of them has a child with Aspergers. Interestingly enough, she has recently been diagnosed with a personality disorder. Her child with Aspergers is age 17. She is quite dysfunctional with daily living. Can't seem to become employed though as a divorced mother with 3 teens, she certainly should be trying to get herself together. Her ex-husband made plenty of suicide attempts, his brother and grandfather were successful suicides. No other autism is present in the other 16 grandchildren of this family.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
"with depression though i think that's a chicken and egg thing." This was, in effect, the researchers' hypothesis. They believed that having a psychiatric condition would influence parents to have their children evaluated for psychiatric conditions and lead to an increased diagnosis of autism. Conversely, they felt the disorder may lead to increased psychiatric problems in the parents. They found both, but also found support for familial patterns that indicate a genetic component- not all of the diagnoses were explained by the connections above.
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
no surprise here. these are dsm measured or scored or whatever you want to call it. with depression though i think that's a chicken and egg thing. is the mother depressed BECAUSE of her childs diagnosis or is the mothers diagnosis a sign to look for autism in the children? *Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
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