Studies find genetic link to autism?

The studies could help unravel how the mysterious disorder happens and how it might be treated in the future.

One of the three studies was the largest to ever be conducted on genetics and autism disorders.

Researchers found that gene variations involved in forming connections between different parts of the brain can put people at increased risk of developing /*autism*/.

The goal of the studies was to find clues about what causes the complex disorder by comparing the /*DNA*/ of people with autism and those without.

One study found that tiny mutations in a single chromosome could account for up to 15 percent of all autism cases.

It's the first time scientists have identified specific gene mutations, leading to specific abnormalities in how brain cells work in many people with autism.

Geraldine Dawson, a co-author, said the genes that were discovered appear to be involved in the development of the frontal lobe of the brain, the area that is involved in social behavior and abstract thought.

Scientists have long suspected a genetic link. In families with twins, scientists noticed if one twin has autism, the odds were strong the other would have it as well.

Researchers examined DNA from more than 12,000 families, making it the largest autism gene study ever.

The /*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention*/ estimates that in the U.S., one out of every 166 children has an autism spectrum disorder.

Researchers say the genes may alter the pattern of the brain cell connections in those who have autism. Dawson said these are the first studies to highlight a specific biochemical pathway and could lead to medication or drugs that could help restore brain function.



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