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Study finds parents have 1 in 5 chance of having second autistic child

by nickj on August 16, 2011

Results of a new study sheds new light on the link between children with autism and their siblings. The Los Angeles Times reports that researchers at University of California Davis Mind Institute found that parents who have an autistic child have a 1 in 5 chance of having another one.

The findings, which were published in the journal Pediatrics, suggest a link in autism between siblings that is higher than previously thought. Scientists had previously believed that the chances of having a second autistic child were about 1 in 10. However, this is the largest study on the topic and may change the way people view the condition.

According to the Times, scientists conducted their research at 12 different locations across the United States and Canada and looked at the 664 children who had at least one older sibling with autism. The subjects were followed for eight months when they were toddlers. Researchers concluded that 19 percent had developed the condition.

"Family history is a very strong risk factor, but there are other risk factors as well," Alycia Halladay, the director of environmental research for Autism Speaks, told The New York Times. “There are strong environmental risk factors. We don’t know what those are yet, but this is not the only factor that goes into an autism diagnosis."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of about 1 in 110 children in the United States have some form of autism, and the condition is four to five times more likely to appear in boys than girls.

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