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New Studies Suggest Autism and Language Development could be Genetically Linked

  July, 17 2000 18:44
your information resource in human molecular genetics
In the August issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics, two studies localize autism and developmental language disorder to the same position in the human genome. Autism is a disorder characterized by impaired social interactions. In contrast, children with developmental language disorder have problems with pronunciation, grammar, and verbal communication.

Researchers have sometimes found it hard to diagnose children with one of these disorders because their symptoms sometimes overlap. The localization of both disorders to the same genetic region suggests that this overlap may be due a genetic relationship between the disorders. These results could also explain the fact that language and reading difficulties are more prevalent in siblings and parents of people with autism and, conversely, that autism is more prevalent in the families of children with the developmental language disorder. Although the researchers cannot say for sure whether genes are shared between the disorders, since the genes for the disorders have not been identified, the above evidence suggests they could be.

For the full text of an editorial article entitled "Chromosome 7q: where autism meets language disorder?", see the "August 2000"section in the electronic edition of The American Journal of Human Genetics at http://www.ajhg.org.

For more information, contact Dr. Susan Folstein at the Dept. of Psychiatry, New England Medical Center. Phone: (617)636-5732 sfolstein@hotmail.com.

Contributed by Dr. Kate Beauregard, The American Journal of Human Genetics, Tel: (404)712-9985. Email: kbeaure@emory.edu

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