Genetics of Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) does appear to have a genetic component, at least in some cases. Siblings of children with ASD are more likely to be autistic (studies estimate that families with 1 child with ASD have up to a 20% chance of having a child with ASD in each subsequent pregnancy).

The causes of ASD are still not well understood. Most researchers believe that genetics is only a part of the story and that environmental factors also play a role. Much research still needs to be done.

While the risk is small, pay attention to whether your child has met some key developmental milestones, particularly in the areas of social skills and communication:

  • smiling
  • gestures, such as pointing
  • answering to her name
  • speech development and understanding
  • using eye contact

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthcare providers screen children for autism and 18 and 24 months of age. The AAP also recommends broader screening for developmental delays and disabilities at 9 months, 18 months and 30 months.

If you have concerns, talk to your child’s healthcare provider.

See also ...

How children are screened for ASD

Learn the signs of autism

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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