Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Schizophrenia in Families May Be Risk Factor for Autism

There is some evidence of overlap between autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia, but studies testing that hypothesis have been small and produced mixed results. But now, a large study using Swedish population and patient data suggests that a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder might be a risk factor for ASD.

The researchers compared data from more than 25,000 cases of patients with ASD with data from control subjects. Patients with ASD were 2 to 3 times more likely to have a parent or sibling with schizophrenia and about 1.5 to 2 times more likely to have one with bipolar disorder, reported Patrick Sullivan, M.D., of the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues in the November Archives of General Psychiatry. “Our findings indicate that ASD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders share etiologic risk factors,” the researchers said, "factors common to these disorders.”

To read more about this study, see Psychiatric News here. For a comprehensive review of autism etiology, diagnosis, and treatment, see Textbook of Autism Spectrum Disorders from American Psychiatric Publishing. 

(Image: Marcin Pawinski/


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