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August 15, 2011

Autism runs deeper in families than previously thought

A new study has found that if you have an autistic child, there is a 19 percent chance your next child with also be diagnosed with autism.

This is higher than the 3 to 10 percent originally thought. (See a full Los Angeles Times story here.)

In the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, boys have a 26 percent chance of having autism if they have an older sibling with the neurobiological condition. Girls have a 9 percent chance.

The gender of the older sibling didn’t matter. But having more than one older sibling with autism further increased the chance to 32 percent.

With cases being reported more often, other researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health are also studying causes. For now, scientists don’t know what causes the disorder that affects social interactions and communications.

That study is looking at siblings to explore genetic and environmental factors that may contribute. It’s called the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation, and it began last fall.

For now, the study released today may help parents who are deciding on having more children.

Posted by Meredith Cohn at 1:47 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Autism


"A new study has found that if you have an autistic child, there is a 19 percent chance your next child with also be diagnosed with autism."

This doesn't necessarily indicate a genetic link -- it could be the environment in the mother's womb that causes autism. Genetic certainly play a factor but they don't tell the whole story.

Readers may be interested to know that Baltimore families enrolled in baby sibling studies through the Kennedy Krieger Institute actually took part in this international, multi-site study.

You can learn more about other autism research studies at Kennedy Krieger that are currently in need of participants by visiting

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About Picture of Health
Meredith CohnMeredith Cohn has been a reporter since 1991, covering everything from politics and airlines to the environment and medicine. A runner since junior high and a particular eater for almost as long, she tries to keep up on health and fitness trends. Her aim is to bring you the latest news and information from the local and national medical and wellness communities.

Andrea K. WalkerAndrea K. Walker knows it’s weird to some people, but she has a fascination with fitness, diseases, medicine and other health-related topics. She subscribes to a variety of health and fitness magazines and becomes easily engrossed in the latest research in health and science. An exercise fanatic, she’s probably tried just about every fitness activity there is. Her favorites are running, yoga and kickboxing. So it is probably fitting that she has been assigned to cover the business of healthcare and to become a regular contributor to this blog. Andrea has been at The Sun for nearly 10 years, covering manufacturing, retail , airlines and small and minority business. She looks forward to telling readers about the latest health news.

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