Time Magazine - "This Is How Much Of Autism Is Genetic" - Alice Park
For a condition as complex as autism, it’s almost certain that both genes and environment play an important role. But teasing apart how much DNA contributes to the developmental condition and how much is due to environmental exposures remains a subject of much debate. Mount Sinai researchers said they have come up with the most accurate figure to date for the role that genes play in autism. Led by Sven Sandin, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, the scientists re-analyzed existing data from all children born in Sweden between 1982 and 2006. When Dr. Sandin tracked autism diagnoses over time among the sibling pairs, he found that genetics likely accounts for around 83 percent of the disorder. Using the new model, environmental factors probably contribute around 17 percent to the risk of developing autism. "This is why it is important to have different study designs," said Dr. Sandin. "We have a family-based approach, and there are other approaches for twin studies and genetics studies. All of them seem to be converging on the same number of 80 to 90 percent."
- Sven Sandin, PhD, Assistant Professor, Psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai