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Autism, Psychiatric Disorders Close Genetic Cousins

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In the largest study of its kind, researchers are reporting that autism may be more closely tied to a handful of other psychiatric disorders than previously thought.

Scientists analyzed the genomes of more than 60,000 people finding that those with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and schizophrenia may all share genetic risk factors.

For the study published online this week in the journal The Lancet, researchers looked at the genomes of 33,332 people, each of whom had one of the five psychiatric disorders targeted, and 27,888 people with no mental health issues. They found four areas of genetic code with variations seen in people with all five psychiatric conditions.

The discovery could help improve understanding of the psychiatric disorders, researchers said, and may lead to more accurate ways to diagnose the conditions.

“Our results provide new evidence that may inform a move beyond descriptive syndromes in psychiatry and towards classification based on underlying causes,” said Jordan Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital who worked on the study.

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Comments (4 Responses)

  1. DC M says:

    Hi, anything to show where damage is before or after birth? or just that it has happened previously?
    How many diagnosed with these disorders did not show genetic damage or risk factors?

  2. Michele says:

    We need to go back and look at the original research completed by MGH to understand the stretch this really is. My child was part of this study and they specifically requested individuals with specific disabilities that are co-morbid with emotional/behavioral disabilities to participate. If we look at 5000 individuals with blonde hair and blue eyes that develop joint problems, we could make the case that having blonde hair and blue eyes is closely associated with joint issues. The other issue I had with the intake for this study is that they did not choose individuals and then screen them on a specific set of criteria. They accepted anyone who was “diagnosed” with the disabilities they wanted to study. There is no real science here.

  3. Carmen Allen says:

    this is nothing more than attempt to medicate since ABA is up in the air now. I understand Autism $peaks Co-founder Bernie Marcus (of Home Depot) was a pharmacist. They’ve been testing drugs on kids for some time through the Clinical Trials Network. Lots of mula in pharmas. I’m thinking Michelle is right – this is not science, this is a way to usher more drugs for those on the spectrum :(((((((((((((((((((((

  4. L Csurka says:

    Interesting article. I too am awaiting more detailed studies. To me, it is obvious that ASD can be intertwined with other mental health issues. Nice to read it is being looked at and may continue to be. I work with an autistic (severe) student and it has been brought up several times regarding other areas where he might qualify. People often wonder, naturally, how much is autism, how much is behavioral, how much is home environment, how much is physiological, how much is mental prowess, nutritional, cultural, the list seems endless at times. What I know is that my student is an individual first, way before any diagnosis at all. He’s a joy and a gift.

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