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J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 Aug;44(8):2013-25. doi: 10.1007/s10803-014-2081-2.

A twin study of heritable and shared environmental contributions to autism.

Author information

1
Center for Autism, The Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA, fraziet2@ccf.org.

Abstract

The present study examined genetic and shared environment contributions to quantitatively-measured autism symptoms and categorically-defined autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants included 568 twins from the Interactive Autism Network. Autism symptoms were obtained using the Social Communication Questionnaire and Social Responsiveness Scale. Categorically-defined ASD was based on clinical diagnoses. DeFries-Fulker and liability threshold models examined etiologic influences. Very high heritability was observed for extreme autism symptom levels ([Formula: see text]). Extreme levels of social and repetitive behavior symptoms were strongly influenced by common genetic factors. Heritability of categorically-defined ASD diagnosis was comparatively low (.21, 95 % CI 0.15-0.28). High heritability of extreme autism symptom levels confirms previous observations of strong genetic influences on autism. Future studies will require large, carefully ascertained family pedigrees and quantitative symptom measurements.

PMID:
24604525
PMCID:
PMC4104233
DOI:
10.1007/s10803-014-2081-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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