The Association Between Somatic Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Autistic Traits.

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The Association Between Somatic Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Autistic Traits.

Behav Genet. 2019 Dec 06;:

Authors: Pan PY, Tammimies K, Bölte S

This study used a twin cohort to investigate the association of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autistic traits with somatic health. A total of 344 twins (172 pairs; mean age 15.56 ± 5.62 years) enriched for ASD and other neurodevelopmental conditions were examined. Medical history and current physical problems were collected with a validated questionnaire to determine twin’s somatic health. The Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS-2) was used to measure the participant’s severity of autistic traits. Identified somatic health issues with significant within-twin pair differences were tested in relation to both ASD diagnosis and autistic traits in a co-twin control model. Twins with ASD exhibited more neurological and immunological health problems compared to those without ASD (p = 0.005 and p = 0.004, respectively). The intra-pair differences of neurological conditions and SRS-2 score were significantly correlated in monozygotic twins differing for autism traits (r = 0.40, p = 0.001), while the correlation was not found for immunological problems. In addition, a conditional model for analysis of within-twin pair effects revealed an association between neurological problems and clinical ASD diagnosis (Odds ratio per neurological problem 3.15, p = 0.02), as well as autistic traits (β = 10.44, p = 0.006), after adjusting for possible effects of co-existing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and general intellectual abilities. Our findings suggest that neurological problems are associated with autism, and that non-shared environmental factors contribute to the overlap for both clinical ASD and autistic traits. Further population-based twin studies are warranted to validate our results and examine in detailed the shared genetic and environmental contributions of neurological problems and ASD.

PMID: 31811521 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]