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Published on : May 05, 2014

As was always believed, environmental factors do play a significant role in understanding the reasons that cause autism, almost as significant as genes – a recent study clarifies. 

Here, environmental factors refer to the “shared-environmental factors” between an autistic individual and its family members (such as socio-economic factors) and “non-shared environmental factors” that are unique to the individual (such as maternal infections, medications during the pre and postnatal phase of a child or birth complications). 

The study has found that the non-shared environmental factors are the significant reasons behind the cause of autism in an individual. 

The study also sheds significant light on the effect of having an autistic sibling - real, half or cousin – on the likeliness of developing autism in children. It says that the children who have a real brother or sister with autism are ten times more likely, those having half brother or sister with autism are three times more likely and those having a cousin with autism are two times more likely to develop autism than are kids with normal siblings. 

This research has provided much needed information for medical representatives and parents for assessing individual risk factors of autism.  

The research was collectively undertaken by researchers at the King’s College, London, Mount Sinai, US and the Karolinska institute, Sweden. More than 2 million participants were studied for the research, all of which were picked from the national health registers of Sweden between the years 1982 and 2006. Of these 2 million individuals studied, the 14,516 children that were diagnosed with autism were the centre of research whose were analysed for the study. 

The entire study has been published in the Journal JAMA.