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Appl Clin Genet. 2019 Apr 12;12:55-61. doi: 10.2147/TACG.S164757. eCollection 2019.

Correlates of genetic attributions among parents of children in the USA with developmental disabilities.

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Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, New Hyde Park, NY, USA,



As technologies for identifying causal genetic variants in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other developmental conditions continue to advance, there is a need to understand the factors that influence parental beliefs about the causes of their child's disabilities. This study assessed the correlates of etiologic attributions among US parents of children with ASD, intellectual disability (ID), and/or developmental delay (DD).


Data were obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's nationally representative Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services. Respondents were classified according to whether their child had ASD without ID or DD (ASD-only), ASD with ID and/or DD (ASD+ID/DD), or ID and/or DD without ASD (ID/DD-only). Respondents rated the extent to which they believed that genetics/heredity and environmental exposures (prenatal and/or postnatal) had contributed to their child's condition. Logistic regression analyses and chi-square tests were used to assess the relationship between parental beliefs and child characteristics.


The parents of children with comorbid ASD and ID/DD were found to be significantly less likely than those in the other condition groups to attribute their child's condition to genetics. Within the ASD+ID/DD group, parental endorsement of genetics was lower among those who reported a history of language regression (p=0.006).


Further research is needed to evaluate the impact of parental genetic attributions on medical decision-making.


autism spectrum disorders; developmental disabilities; etiology; intellectual disability; parental beliefs

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