Link Between Autism in Twins and Maternal Health

A newly released study on autism in children suggests that a mother’s health and age may play a role in autism.  The study’s lead author, Joachim Hallmayer of Stanford University looked at 192 identical and fraternal twins where at least one twin was autistic.  In the identical twins, 77% of the males and 50% of the females had autism.  The biggest surprise was that there were also fairly high rates of autism in fraternal twins with 31% of males and 36% of females having autism.

The discovery of high rates of autism in fraternal twins is key in that it suggests that the environment of the womb plays a role in the development of autism.  The study indicates that factors such as stress, diet, infections, a mother’s age, and medications may play a role in the development of autism.

Source:  Archives of General Psychiatry, published on July 4, 2011

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