The parents of children with autism were roughly twice as likely to have been treated for a mental disorder compared to the parents of other children, according to University of North Carolina researchers.
Reporting in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers said that earlier studies had shown a higher rate of psychiatric disorders in families of autistic children than in the general population and their study aimed to find out if the parents of autistic children were more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders.
"We are trying to determine whether autism is more common among families with other psychiatric disorders. Establishing an association between autism and other psychiatric disorders might enable future investigators to better focus on genetic and environmental factors that might be shared among these disorders," said study author Julie Daniels. "Our research shows that mothers and fathers diagnosed with schizophrenia were about twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism. We also saw higher rates of depression and personality disorders among mothers, but not fathers."
"This information will help researchers look among related diseases, such as psychiatric disorders, for causes of autism," Daniels concluded. "It may eventually help identify opportunities to prevent or treat the disorder."
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Source: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill