Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, findings made by researchers at Rutgers University and The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio conclude a genetic link in family members between autism and language impairment.
The study, led by Linda Brzustowicz, a professor at Rutgers University and Chair of the Department of Genetic in the School of Arts and Science, found that genes in a narrow region of two chromosomes, which play a part in oral and written language impairments, can yield one family member developing autism and the other language difficulties.
Researchers worldwide are trying to find the etiology of autism by identifying the potential genetic factors. By finding a genetic link between a family member with autism and a family member with language impairment, researchers can eventually understand the mechanisms behind autism.
The study involved 79 families in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, taking blood samples and performing in-home testing of all family members, even extended members. The tests were completed by assessing grammar, vocabulary and language processing levels.
Proud of their findings, Brzustowicz comments, “This is just the beginning. We are finding evidence of genetic similarities with the hopes of being able to identify targets that might respond to pharmacological treatments.”[i]
This has been an important week of developments for genetic factors of autism. In a separate and unrelated study, IntegraGen announced the results of a study which concludes their ability to predict the risk of autism in those who display signs of a developmental delay.
[i] “Medical Press” Autism and language impairment genetically linked. 30 Oct 2013. Web. < http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-10-autism-language-impairment-genetically-linked.html>