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Behav Genet. 2019 Dec 6. doi: 10.1007/s10519-019-09986-3. [Epub ahead of print]

The Association Between Somatic Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Autistic Traits.

Pan PY1,2, Tammimies K3,4, Bölte S3,4,5,6.

Author information

1
Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Centre for Psychiatry Research, Gävlegatan 22, 11330, Stockholm, Sweden. pei-yin.pan@ki.se.
2
Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, Gävlegatan 22, 11330, Stockholm, Sweden. pei-yin.pan@ki.se.
3
Center of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (KIND), Centre for Psychiatry Research, Gävlegatan 22, 11330, Stockholm, Sweden.
4
Department of Women's and Children's Health, Karolinska Institutet & Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, Gävlegatan 22, 11330, Stockholm, Sweden.
5
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Stockholm Health Care Services, Region Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden.
6
Curtin Autism Research Group, School of Occupational Therapy, Social Work and Speech Pathology, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia.

Abstract

This study used a twin cohort to investigate the association of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autistic traits with somatic health. A total of 344 twins (172 pairs; mean age 15.56 ± 5.62 years) enriched for ASD and other neurodevelopmental conditions were examined. Medical history and current physical problems were collected with a validated questionnaire to determine twin's somatic health. The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2) was used to measure the participant's severity of autistic traits. Identified somatic health issues with significant within-twin pair differences were tested in relation to both ASD diagnosis and autistic traits in a co-twin control model. Twins with ASD exhibited more neurological and immunological health problems compared to those without ASD (p = 0.005 and p = 0.004, respectively). The intra-pair differences of neurological conditions and SRS-2 score were significantly correlated in monozygotic twins differing for autism traits (r = 0.40, p = 0.001), while the correlation was not found for immunological problems. In addition, a conditional model for analysis of within-twin pair effects revealed an association between neurological problems and clinical ASD diagnosis (Odds ratio per neurological problem 3.15, p = 0.02), as well as autistic traits (β = 10.44, p = 0.006), after adjusting for possible effects of co-existing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and general intellectual abilities. Our findings suggest that neurological problems are associated with autism, and that non-shared environmental factors contribute to the overlap for both clinical ASD and autistic traits. Further population-based twin studies are warranted to validate our results and examine in detailed the shared genetic and environmental contributions of neurological problems and ASD.

KEYWORDS:

ASD; Autism spectrum disorder; Autistic traits; Comorbidity; Health; Neurodevelopmental disorders; Neurology; Twins

PMID:
31811521
DOI:
10.1007/s10519-019-09986-3

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