A study, credited as the largest and most comprehensive to date, claims that heritability only contributes about 50 percent to autism’s occurrence in individuals.
The research at King’s College London and Sweden’s Karolinska institute assigned as much importance to environmental factors.
It catalogued such contributory environmental players in autism as birth complications, socio-economic status, or parental health and lifestyle.
Researchers used Swedish national health registers and analyzed anonymous data from all two million children born in Sweden in between 1982 and 2006, 14,516 of whom had a diagnosis of autism.
Avi Reichenberg, of the Mount Sinai Seaver Center for Autism Research, who worked on the study said, “Heritability is a population measure, so whilst it does not tell us much about risk at an individual level, it does tell us where to look for causes.”
“Recent research efforts have tended to focus on genes, but it’s now clear that we need much more research to focus on identifying what these environmental factors are.”
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates, relates to others, and makes sense of the world.
Autistic individuals’ ability to form and sustain friendships is limited and they cannot understand other people’s emotional expressions. People with autism may have accompanying learning disabilities, but everyone with the condition shares a difficulty in making sense of the world around them.