New study points to genetic link for Autism - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

New study points to genetic link for Autism

SPOKANE, Wash. - There is a major breakthrough on the cause of some forms of autism.

Researchers have discovered a genetic mutation responsible for greatly increasing a child's risk of developing autism.

Researchers tested thousands of children from around the country.

Under lead researcher Dr. Hakon Hakonarson, they found a particular genetic mutation carried by about 65-percent of children with autism.

Scientists say the gene variant affects the area of the brain common in children with the disorder.

"In my view, this is really going to open up the field now and it tells you the cause of autism is dominantly genetic," said Hakonarson.

Doctors say this genetic link is important for families who already have a child with autism.

"If you have a family who already has a child with autism, the risk of another child being born with autism in that family is substantially increased. There is about 30 to 40 percent," Hakonarson said.

The new research gives new hope to families who have waited for doctors to discover what causes autism so they can one day find a cure.

This new genetic discovery could open the door to predicting and preventing the disorder altogether.

Researchers believe down the road, they'll be able to test parents for the genetic variation and even find the mutation in an unborn child.

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