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Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder Up With Affected Aunt, Uncle

Rates of ASD higher for offspring of mothers or fathers with a sibling diagnosed with ASD

THURSDAY, May 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is increased for children with an aunt or uncle with ASD, according to a study recently published in Biological Psychiatry.

Dan Bai, Ph.D., from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues analyzed data from the Swedish National Patient Register and the Multi-Generation Register for a cohort of children born from 2003 to 2012. In both the child and parental generations, ASD was ascertained.

The researchers found that 1.55 percent of the 847,732 children were diagnosed with ASD. Overall, 0.24 and 0.18 percent of their maternal and paternal aunts/uncles, respectively, were diagnosed with ASD. The rates of ASD were higher for offspring of mothers with a sibling diagnosed with ASD compared with the general population (relative risk, 3.05), but not more than would be predicted for second-degree relatives within a generation; the risk was only slightly greater than the risk for offspring of fathers with siblings with ASD (relative risk, 2.08). The results were not altered in models adjusting for temporal trends and for psychiatric history in the parental generation.

“While these results mitigate concern for amplification of maternally transmitted ASD risk, they affirm the importance of heightened surveillance for ASD in second-generation offspring,” the authors write. “Given the benefits of early intervention, these results support incorporating second-degree family history of ASD in pediatric practice.”

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