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Parental Social Responsiveness and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Offspring

Kristen Lyall; John N. Constantino; Marc G. Weisskopf; Andrea L. Roberts; Alberto Ascherio; Susan L. Santangelo (2014) JAMA Psychiatry Published online June 18, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.476  

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We performed a nested case-control study (pilot study: July 1, 2007, through June 30, 2009; full-scale study: September 15, 2008, through September 14, 2012) within a population-based longitudinal cohort. Participants were drawn from the Nurses’ Health Study II, a cohort of 116 430 female nurses recruited in 1989. Case participants were index children with reported ASD; control participants were frequency matched by year of birth of case participants among those not reporting ASD. Of 3161 eligible participants, 2144 nurses (67.8%) returned SRS forms for a child and at least 1 parent and were included in these analyses.

Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) scores as reported by nurse mothers and their spouses, were examined in association with risk of ASD using crude and adjusted logistic regression analyses. The SRS scores of the children were examined in association with SRS scores of the parents using crude and adjusted linear regression analyses stratified by case status.

A total of 1649 individuals were included in these analyses, including 256 ASD case participants, 1393 control participants, 1233 mothers, and 1614 fathers. Risk of ASD was increased by 85.0% among children whose parents had concordantly elevated SRS scores (odds ratio [OR], 1.85; 95% CI, 1.08-3.16) and by 52.0% when the score of either parent was elevated (OR, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.11-2.06). Elevated scores of the father significantly increased the risk of ASD in the child (OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.38-2.71), but no association was seen with elevated scores of the mother. Elevated parent scores significantly increased child scores in controls, corresponding to an increase in 23 points (P < .001).


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