Fascinating New Research Highlights Genetic Link to Autism

From Turkey to Ireland, the news of the genetic link to Asperger Syndrome and other Autism Spectrum Disorders took the world by storm.  Within a few hours news agencies all over the world were announcing the discovery first published in Nature – an international weekly journal of science.

Scientists have identified a new gene variant (CDH10) that is highly common in autistic children. When researchers scrutinized the activity of the gene in the fetal brain, they discovered that it is most active in key regions that support language, speech and interpreting social behavior. These findings were published April 28 in the advance online edition of the journal Nature.

Previously, scientists believed that autism was a developmental disorder resulting from abnormal connections in the brain. However, this new research suggests that CDH10 plays a critical role in shaping the developing brain and may therefore contribute to a prenatal risk of autism.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) range from severe autism to mild Asperger’s syndrome.  In one of these new studies, of more than 10,000 people including those with ASD and their families, researchers found that genetic factors play a strong role in ASD.

I found this research fascinating because it confirms what I’ve observed in families that come to me for therapy. I find that frequently a child who is diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome has an undiagnosed parent with the same disorder. Click here to learn more about adults with Asperger Syndrome.

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