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Parental Autoimmune Disease Linked to Autism in Children

Last Updated: July 06, 2009.

A family history of some autoimmune diseases may be associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders and infantile autism in children, according to a study published online July 6 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, July 6 (HealthDay News) -- A family history of some autoimmune diseases may be associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders and infantile autism in children, according to a study published online July 6 in Pediatrics.

Hjordis O. Atladottir, of the University of Aarhus in Denmark, and colleagues studied 1993 to 2004 Danish birth records and identified 3,325 children with autism spectrum disorders, including 1,089 with an infantile autism diagnosis. They obtained information on parental autoimmune disorders from the Danish National Hospital Register.

The researchers found that infantile autism was associated with a family history of type 1 diabetes (incidence rate ratio, 1.76). They also found that autism spectrum disorders were associated with maternal rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease (incidence rate ratios, 1.79 and 3.52, respectively).

"The observed associations between familial autoimmunity and autism spectrum disorders/infantile autism are probably attributable to a combination of a common genetic background and a possible prenatal antibody exposure or alteration in fetal environment during pregnancy," the authors conclude.

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