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Parents of Autistic Children More Likely To Have Mental Disorders

By Daniel H. Rasolt

Posted: Monday, May 05, 2008

(Defeat Diabetes® News) -- The parents of children with autism were found to be nearly twice as likely to have suffered and been hospitalized for some form of psychiatric condition,  a recent study attests. The results could help better understand the roots of autism, and why it develops in children.

According to study author Dr. Julie Daniels, "our research shows that mothers and fathers diagnosed with schizophrenia were about twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism. We also saw higher rates of depression and personality disorders among mothers, but not fathers."

1,237 people born between 1977-2003, who had been diagnosed with autism before the age of ten, were considered for the study. The parents of these children were subsequently studied, primarily to see if they had ever been hospitalized for a mental disorder, and at what point(s) in their life the hospitalization occurred. "The association was present regardless of the timing of the parent's diagnosis relative to the child's diagnosis," according to the study. The fact that the association was for all times of diagnosis seems to eliminate the possibility that parents develop mental disorders as a result of raising an autistic child, and that autism may have a basis in the chemical imbalance of the parents.

Autism affects more than one million children in the United States, with as many as one out of every 150 children estimated to suffer from the condition. While much research has been done on autism, it's causes and actual mechanisms are poorly understood, and there is little in the form of treatment or prevention to deal with the disease. Understanding the biological roots of the disease within many autistic children's parents could potentially lead to a better understanding of autism, and maybe a better way to treat or prevent it.

Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Lane, Patric. Daniels, Julie. Pediatric press release. May 2008.

Daniel H. Rasolt writes for Defeat Diabetes® News. Read more of his original content articles.

Copyright © 2008 Defeat Diabetes Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved.

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