January 28, 2015

Study of siblings with autism reveals surprising results

The Globe and Mail

With symptoms that can range from missed social cues to severe linguistic and cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has proved a complex condition for geneticists to get their heads around.

Now the largest study to date based on the whole genome sequences of siblings with ASD, together with their non-autistic parents, is throwing a genetic spotlight on those complexities and yielding some surprises.

Among them: In only one third of the cases where the autism of one sibling with ASD was linked to a genetic variant did the other sibling with autism share the same variant.

At face value, such a result might seem to defy common sense. Autism is thought to affect about 1 in 68 children, which means the odds of two siblings having the disorder for entirely unrelated reasons should be very low.

One possible explanation is some of the variants the study looked at will prove in time not to be implicated in autism. Or there could be other still-hidden inherited factors that the siblings share that may increase the likelihood of ASD in some way. “Then, if they have another mutation, they’re pushed across the autism threshold,” says Stephen Scherer, director of the Centre for Applied Genomics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto who led the study. MORE >

August 22, 2014

CDC estimates 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children (or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) in multiple communities in the United States has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  This new estimate is roughly 30 percent higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight year olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder.    The number of children identified with ASD ranged from 1 in 175 children in Alabama to 1 in 45 children in New Jersey.
The surveillance summary report, “Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010,” was published today in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.  Researchers reviewed records from community sources that educate, diagnose, treat and/or provide services to children with developmental disabilities. The criteria used to diagnose ASDs and the methods used to collect data have not changed.
The data continue to show that ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls:  1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children.

If you suspect that your child may have ASD:
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about your concerns.
  • At the same time, call your local early intervention program or school system for a free evaluation.
  • It’s never too late to get help for your child.

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