Chromosome Change Points To Autism

According to a new study, people who possess a specific change in one of their chromosomes are nearly 14 times more likely to develop an autism spectrum disorder or schizophrenia than those without this change.

The change, which is called a deletion, happens when a section of chromosome 17 is missing. The missing section only occurs in people who have an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental delay or schizophrenia, said study researcher David H. Ledbetter, a genetics professor at Emory University.

Not everyone with autism, a developmental delay or schizophrenia as been found to have this deletion. But all people who have the chromosome change will develop some form of these disorders, whether it’s mild or strong enough for a diagnosis, said Dr. Ledbetter.

Schizophrenia and autism are separate disorders, but other recent research has also shown the two have genetic similarities.

“At least in a subset of autism and a subset of schizophrenia, the same [genetic changes] play a major role in both,” Ledbetter said. “It will be interesting in the future, because we’ll have the ability to identify this type of deletion in young children, and follow them to figure out why some of them do develop autism and some don’t.”

The study appeared in the Nov. 4 issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. To read more please visit here.


1 Comment

  1. Jay Walker said,

    November 14, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    I’d be interested in getting my son and myself checked to see if we have that deletion. My son has Aspergers as well as ADHD and mood disorder. When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with unspecified learning disabilities.

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