Food and Behaviour Research

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25 June 2014 - MedicalXPress - Parents of children with autism often have autistic traits

Jim Dryden

Studying children with autism and their parents, researchers have found that when a child has autism, his or her parents are more likely to have autistic traits than parents who don't have a child with an autism spectrum disorder

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

The related research can be found here :  Lyall et al 2014 - Parental Social Responsiveness and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring

Listen to a BBC Radio 4 show on autism here:  7 March 2011 - BBC Radio 4 - Steep Rise in Autism

Past studies have found that the siblings of children with autism also tended to have more autistic traits than the siblings of kids without autism. But this study is the first to connect significant numbers of autistic traits in parents to diagnoses of autism in their children.

The researchers analyzed data from 256 children with diagnoses of autism and almost 1,400 children who did not have the disorder. Data from more than 1,200 mothers and 1,600 fathers of the children also were included in the analysis.

The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) was used to measure the presence of autistic traits. 

When both parents had mild elevations in SRS scores, the study indicated that they were 85 percent more likely than parents without elevated scores to have a child with an autism spectrum disorder. If only one parent's SRS score was high, the likelihood of having a child with autism spectrum disorder increased by 53 percent. And even among children without autism diagnoses, elevated parent scores correlated with higher SRS scores in their children.