The results of a study across five countries on the factors linked to autism risk has recently been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
The study followed more than 2 million children from birth to 16 years of age, just over 22,000 of which were diagnosed with autism. The factors assessed were inherited genetic traits, ‘nonshared environmental factors’ and maternal effects.
On average 80% of variation in autism risk was linked to genetic factors, although this varied considerably between countries. Up to 27% of variation could be attributed to environmental factors, whereas did not appear to explain variation.
The authors caution that as the study did not assess specific risk factors, it cannot be used by parents to minimise autism risk and should not be used by professionals to inform autism prevention and treatment. The main utility of the results is to inform further research in this area, especially the potential for genetic testing or risk assessment for autism.
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