Cо страницы http://www.jpost.com/Health-and-Science/TAU-Schizophrenia-family-history-may-lead-to-autism
TAU: Schizophrenia family history may lead to autism By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
Research finds autism disorders share a root cause with psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are developmental disorders diagnosed in one in 88 children, but new Tel Aviv University and Sheba Medical Center research has found that ASD shares a root cause with psychiatric illnesses like schizophrenia and manic-depression (bipolar disorder).
Dr. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center has revealed a family history of the psychiatric diseases is a risk factor for autism, which affects boys more often than girls and is usually diagnosed around age two. The findings have been published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.
At first glance, schizophrenia and autism look like very different illnesses, he says.
But closer inspection reveals many common traits, including social and cognitive dysfunction and a decreased ability to lead normal lives and function in the real world.
ASD, a category that includes autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, is characterized by difficulty with social interaction and communication or repetitive behaviors. It is better diagnosed today, but nevertheless, it seems to be much more common now; there has been a 10-fold increase in the last four decades.
Studying extensive databases in Israel and Sweden, the researchers discovered that the two illnesses had a genetic link, representing a heightened risk within families.
They found that people who have a schizophrenic sibling are 12 times more likely to have autism than those with no schizophrenia in the family. The presence of bipolar disorder in a sibling showed a similar pattern of association, but to a lesser degree.
Regarded by experts as a scientific leap forward, the study sheds new light on the genetics of these disorders. The results will help scientists better understand the genetics of mental illness, said Weiser on Tuesday, and may prove to be a promising direction for future research.
The researchers used three data sets, one in Israel and two in Sweden, to determine the familial connection between schizophrenia and autism. The Israeli database alone, used under the auspices of the ethics committees of both the Sheba at Tel Hashomer and the Israeli Defense Forces, included anonymous information about more than a million soldiers, including patients with schizophrenia and ASD.
“We found the same results in all three data sets,” Dr. Weiser said, noting that the ability to replicate the findings across these extensive databases is what makes this study so significant.
Understanding this genetic connection could be a missing link, Weiser added. He and his colleagues are now taking their findings in a clinical direction. For now, though, the findings shouldn’t influence the way that doctors treat patients with either illness, he added.
This work was done in collaboration with researchers at the University of North Carolina, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Kings College London, and the IDF Medical Corps.
Cо страницы http://www2.tau.ac.il/news/engnews.asp?month=12&year=2008
A father`s age is associated with decreased social abilities in boys
Tel Aviv University researchers found in several consecutive studies that older dads are more likely to have boys with autism and lower IQs. Most recently, they found that the older a father’s age, the greater the chance that his son will display poor social abilities as a teen. Dr. Mark Weiser from TAU’s Sackler School of Medicine and his team of researchers are now studying what causes this phenomenon.
“There is a growing body of data showing that an advanced age of parents puts their kids at risk for various illnesses,” says Dr. Weiser. “Some illnesses, such as schizophrenia, appear to be more common the older parents get. Doctors and psychologists are fascinated by this, but don’t really understand it. We want to know how it works.”
Questions and Answers
To explore this important question, Dr. Weiser looked at data collected by the Israeli army. Subjects included more than 450,000 male teens, aged 16 and 17. The teens were asked these questions: How many good friends do you have? Do you have a girlfriend? Do you generally prefer to be with or without a group of friends? How often do you go out on Friday evenings? Do you tend to be at the center of a party?
Controlling for the variables of IQ, mother’s age, socioeconomic status and birth order, the researchers found that the prevalence of poor social functioning increased by 50% in boys with fathers 45 years old and up.
Cause for Concern?
Dr. Weiser, who also works at the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer hospital, cautions that the results are far from conclusive. “It could be that men with poorer social skills get married later in life, and therefore transmit this characteristic to their boys. But our studies attempted to control for this variable by looking at brothers from the same father,” he explains.
He also suggests that older men shouldn’t change their minds about having children since the statistical risk is relatively minor. “The effects of a father’s age on the health of his son are quite small, and many of the most dramatic effects in this study are driven by dads in their 50s,” says Dr. Weiser. “The difference in risk between someone who is 35 or 45 is so small that it’s irrelevant.”
Dr. Weiser continues, “But the findings are interesting for clinicians who are looking at the bigger picture of how parental age affects the mental functioning of offspring and what mechanisms are at play in that functioning.” And Dr. Weiser doesn’t rule out the possibility that older fathers may have better resources for getting their boys tested for autism when symptoms arise.
Published in Oxford Journal’s “Schizophrenia Bulletin,” the study builds on Dr. Weiser’s previous research on parental age, autism and IQ scores.