Autism Linked to Parents' Mental Disorders

Parents more likely to be ill
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2008 3:18 AM CDT
A music therapist works with a child diagnosed with autism. A new study has identified a link between autism and mental illness among some parents.    (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – A new study of autistic children may provide insight into the causes of autism and its epidemic rates in developed countries. Researchers have found a link between autism and mental disorders among parents—including schizophrenia, personality disorders and clinical depression. Mothers and fathers diagnosed with schizophrenia are about twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism, the study found.

"Establishing an association between autism and other psychiatric disorders might enable future investigators to better focus on genetic and environmental factors that might be shared among these disorders," said the author of the study published in Pediatrics. "It may help identify opportunities to prevent or treat the disorder."