Autism, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may share common underlying factors

July 2, 2012

New research led by a medical geneticist at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine points to an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) among individuals whose parents or siblings have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

The findings were based on a case-control study using population registers in Sweden and Israel, and the degree to which these three disorders share a basis in causation "has important implications for clinicians, researchers and those affected by the disorders," according to a report of the research published online July 2, 2012 in the .

"The results were very consistent in large samples from several different countries and lead us to believe that autism and schizophrenia are more similar than we had thought," said Patrick F. Sullivan, MD, FRANZCP, professor in the department of genetics and director of psychiatric genomics at UNC.

Sullivan and colleagues found that the presence of schizophrenia in parents was associated with an almost three times increased risk for in groups from both Stockholm and all of Sweden.

Schizophrenia in a sibling also was associated with roughly two and a half times the risk for autism in the Swedish national group and a 12 times greater risk in a sample of Israeli military conscripts. The authors speculate that the latter finding from Israel resulted from individuals with earlier onset schizophrenia, "which has a higher sibling recurrence."

Bipolar disorder showed a similar pattern of association but of a lesser magnitude, study results indicate.

Our findings suggest that ASD, schizophrenia and share etiologic risk factors," the authors state. "We suggest that future research could usefully attempt to discern common to these disorders."

Explore further: Study compares traits of autism, schizophrenia

More information: Arch Gen Psychiatry. Published online July 2, 2012. doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2012.730

Related Stories

Study compares traits of autism, schizophrenia

February 27, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A UT Dallas professor is studying the differences between the social impairments found in autism and schizophrenia to help develop better treatments for people with both disorders.

Recommended for you

Probing how Americans think about mental life

October 20, 2017
When Stanford researchers asked people to think about the sensations and emotions of inanimate or non-human entities, they got a glimpse into how those people think about mental life.

Itsy bitsy spider: Fear of spiders and snakes is deeply embedded in us

October 19, 2017
Snakes and spiders evoke fear and disgust in many people, even in developed countries where hardly anybody comes into contact with them. Until now, there has been debate about whether this aversion is innate or learnt. Scientists ...

Inflamed support cells appear to contribute to some kinds of autism

October 18, 2017
Modeling the interplay between neurons and astrocytes derived from children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Brazil, say innate ...

Study suggests psychedelic drugs could reduce criminal behavior

October 18, 2017
Classic psychedelics such as psilocybin (often called magic mushrooms), LSD and mescaline (found in peyote) are associated with a decreased likelihood of antisocial criminal behavior, according to new research from investigators ...

Taking probiotics may reduce postnatal depression

October 18, 2017
Researchers from the University of Auckland and Otago have found evidence that a probiotic given in pregnancy can help prevent or treat symptoms of postnatal depression and anxiety.

Schizophrenia disrupts the brain's entire communication system, researchers say

October 17, 2017
Some 40 years since CT scans first revealed abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients, international scientists say the disorder is a systemic disruption to the brain's entire communication system.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Alexander Riccio
not rated yet Jul 02, 2012
FRED PREVIC!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.