Which Parent Carries The Autism Gene? (2023)

What Is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and social interaction.

Some people with autism have difficulty with verbal and nonverbal communication, repetitive behaviors, and interests that are specific to them.

People with autism experience challenges in everyday life, including finding employment, interacting with others, and accessing community resources.

Although a single gene does not cause autism, there is evidence that genetics play a role in the development of the disorder.

Studies have found that people with autism are more likely to have relatives who also have autism and that the risk of developing autism increases with the number of relatives who have the disorder.

It is still unclear why some people develop autism, and others do not, but researchers are exploring all possible causes.

Studies have found that some people with autism have a higher than the average number of genetic markers associated with the disorder.

However, there is still much to learn about the genetics of autism and how it contributes to the development of the disorder.

(Video) Autism and Genetics

Does Autism Run in Families?

Studies have shown that autism is predominantly a genetic disorder, with 40-80% heritability.

While researchers are still working to identify all of the genes associated with autism, they do know that some genetic mutations can increase your risk of developing autism.

If you have a family member with autism, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about getting screened for genetic mutations that could put you at higher risk.

Children in families with a history of other mental conditions like ADHD, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder are also at a higher risk for developing autism.

According to an article on Spectrum News, “Children who have a first-degree relative — a sibling or parent — with a brain condition other than autism have up to 4.7 times the odds of having autism and up to 7.6 times the odds of having both autism and intellectual disability.”

Is Autism Inherited from Mother or Father?

In almost 50% of the cases where there’s only one child in the family with autism, the cause appears to be spontaneous mutations.

Spontaneous mutations are genetic mutations that are absent in the parents and siblings of affected children.

(Video) Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Which Parent Carries The Autism Gene? (1)

Image: Spontaneous mutations

Researchers have long noted that parents of autistic children display some of the traits seen in their children in a much more muted manner.

A 2020 study examined the role of familial relationships in explaining similarities in behaviors across family members.

The study found a relationship between parents and children's behavioral traits and maternal polygenic scores and broad autism behavior traits in children.

This means that traits in children with autism may take after the mother's subtle autism-like behaviors.

For example, if a mother has issues communicating in a social setting, then her autistic child may have communication difficulties themselves.

On the other hand, a large study based on the analysis of 9,275 whole genomes suggests that some mutations tied to autism may be passed down from fathers.

(Video) Genetics of One-Year-Old vs. Autism

The study focused on flanking gene regions, where mutations are rarely observed.

The researchers reported that such rare variants are inherited from fathers twice as much compared to mothers.

The protective effect

Studies have revealed that a type of mutation called the copy number variation seen in autism was three times more common in girls than boys.

Another type of mutation called the single base substitution was also a third more common in girls.

But according to the protective effect theory, women appear to have a shielded effect from these genetic mutations but still leave these mutations down to their sons.

They function a lot better than their male counterparts with the same mutations.

(Video) Genetic Testing for Autism and Developmental Delay

Which Parent Carries The Autism Gene?

Due to its lower prevalence in females, autism was always thought to have a maternal inheritance component.

However, research also suggests that the rarer variants associated with autism are mostly inherited from the father.

Ultimately, autism is a complex condition with 100s of genes involved.

In a child with autism, it is very challenging to tease apart maternal and paternal genetic contributions.

Even without a family history of mental disorders, autism can occur in a child due to spontaneous mutations.

Genetic tests can help understand the risk for autism, explain the possible causes, and shine a light on optimal management and treatment options.

(Video) From Genes to Biology in Autism Spectrum Disorders



Is autism inherited from the mother or father? ›

The team found that mothers passed only half of their structural variants on to their autistic children—a frequency that would be expected by chance alone—suggesting that variants inherited from mothers were not associated with autism. But surprisingly, fathers did pass on substantially more than 50% of their variants.

How is autism inherited genetically? ›

ASD has a tendency to run in families, but the inheritance pattern is usually unknown. People with gene changes associated with ASD generally inherit an increased risk of developing the condition, rather than the condition itself.

Can parents be tested for autism gene? ›

Genetic testing looks for causes of ASD but cannot be used to diagnose ASD. Some people with ASD have syndromic ASD, meaning that they have other specific features in addition to having ASD, such as looking different from other people in the family or having birth defects.

Does autism run in the family? ›

This article reflects that community language preference. In other words, yes, autism runs in families. At the present time, we do not know which specific genes or combination of genes determine whether or not someone will be autistic or which genetic contributions contribute to someone's level of support needs.

How likely are you to have autism if your parent has it? ›

Study Finds 80% Risk From Inherited Genes. A new study looking at autism in 5 countries found that 80 percent of autism risk can be traced to inherited genes rather than environmental factors and random mutations.

What are the odds of having autistic child? ›

The chances of anyone in the general population having an autistic child are about 1 in 1000 or 0.1%. So, while the risk is real, the chances of you and your husband having an autistic child are still very low. As I said, autism most likely involves lots of genes.

What is the root cause of autism? ›

Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes. Both genetics and environment may play a role. Genetics.

Can you detect autism during pregnancy? ›

A routine prenatal ultrasound can identify early signs of autism, study finds. Summary: A routine prenatal ultrasound in the second trimester can identify early signs of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a new study has found.

What increases the risk of autism? ›

Advanced parental age at time of conception. Prenatal exposure to air pollution or certain pesticides. Maternal obesity, diabetes, or immune system disorders. Extreme prematurity or very low birth weight.

What is the most common genetic cause of autism? ›

Among the genetic causes of autism, Fragile X syndrome — one of the more than 800 genes associated with autism — is the most common, known inherited single-gene disorder, and accounts for an estimated 1% to 6% of all autism cases, and according to the CDC, a national parent survey found that 46% of males and 16% of ...

Does breastfeeding reduce autism? ›

Previous studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding is associated with lower odds of having autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children, but data are lacking in Asian countries, especially China.

Can a blood test detect autism? ›

Diagnosing autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be difficult because there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorder. Doctors look at the child's developmental history and behavior to make a diagnosis.

At what age does autism appear? ›

ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person's life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age or later.

Is autism more common in first born? ›

In the largest study of its kind, researchers have shown that the risk of autism increases for firstborn children and children of older parents. The risk of a firstborn with an autism spectrum disorder triples after a mother turns 35 and a father reaches 40.

Is there a genetic test for the autism gene? ›

Is there a genetic test for autism? No. A genetic test cannot diagnose or detect autism. That's because myriad genes along with environmental factors may underlie the condition.

Does autism run in siblings? ›

For starters, a recent study, partly funded by Autism Speaks, found that in families with one or more children with ASD, the chances that a baby sibling will develop autism are much higher than previously thought. In fact, the odds were around one in five, or 20 percent.

Are you born with autism? ›

It's something you're born with. Signs of autism might be noticed when you're very young, or not until you're older. If you're autistic, you're autistic your whole life. Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a "cure".

At what age does risk of autism increase? ›

One 2017 study based on whole-genome sequencing of nearly 5,000 people suggests that parents in their mid-40s are 5 to 10 percent more likely to have a child with autism than are 20-year-old parents.

Can stress during pregnancy cause autism? ›

While genetic factors are a major contributor to the etiology of ASD, mounting evidence supports a role for environmental factors, allowing possibilities for prevention or early intervention. Prenatal stress and maternal immune dysfunction appear to contribute in some way to a significant proportion of these ASD cases.

How can you prevent your child from getting autism? ›

Can You Prevent Autism?
  1. Live healthy. Have regular check-ups, eat well-balanced meals, and exercise. ...
  2. Don't take drugs during pregnancy. Ask your doctor before you take any medication. ...
  3. Avoid alcohol. ...
  4. Seek treatment for existing health conditions. ...
  5. Get vaccinated.
Sep 28, 2021

Why do so many kids have autism? ›

Some argue that autism's prevalence is rising because of environmental causes like vaccines. There is no evidence, though, for that explanation. Others argue that the rate is increasing because of the rising age of parents, especially fathers.

Can too much sugar during pregnancy cause autism? ›

Obesity and diabetes in moms also raises risk

This is because excess sugar is highly inflammatory and raises the risk of autoimmunity. For instance, maternal obesity almost doubles the risk of a child developing autism, while obesity combined with diabetes quadruples the risk.

Can autism be prevented? ›

Autism cannot be entirely prevented or cured, but there are ways that a woman can reduce the chances of their child being diagnosed.

What are the 3 main causes of autism? ›

For now, we don't know the exact cause of autism however research suggests it's a combination of developmental, genetic and environmental factors.

Why is camel milk good for autism? ›

Camel milk has a lot of anti-oxidants. Supporters of camel milk as an autism therapy claim that the anti-oxidants in camel milk can reduce ROS levels in autistic children. They say that this then reduces children's autism characteristics.

What is the best test to diagnose autism? ›

Diagnostic Tools
  • Autism Diagnosis Interview – Revised (ADI-R) A clinical diagnostic instrument for assessing autism in children and adults. ...
  • Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule – Generic (ADOS-G) ...
  • Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) ...
  • Gilliam Autism Rating Scale – Second Edition (GARS-2)

What tests are run to confirm autism? ›

There's no lab test for it, so doctors rely on observing the behaviors of very young children and listening to the concerns of their parents. ASD has a very wide range of symptoms. Some people who are “on the spectrum” have severe mental disabilities.

How do you get checked if you are autistic? ›

How to get diagnosed
  1. Talk to someone for advice. If you or your child have signs of autism, the next step is to talk to someone about it. You could speak to: a GP. ...
  2. Have an autism assessment. An autism assessment is where a team of autism specialists check if you or your child are autistic. An assessment team may:

What are the first signs of autism in a baby? ›

Recognizing signs of autism
  • May not keep eye contact or makes little or no eye contact.
  • Shows no or less response to a parent's smile or other facial expressions.
  • May not look at objects or events a parent is looking at or pointing to.
  • May not point to objects or events to get a parent to look at them.
Apr 1, 2021

Does speech delay mean autism? ›

Not necessarily. While speech delays, language delays, and learning differences are often a hallmark of ASD, a speech delay by itself does not mean a child has autism. In fact, there are key differences between communication delays caused by autism and other types of speech-language disorders.

Do autistic babies move a lot? ›

One of the core symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is the frequency and persistence of repetitive and stereotyped movements during toddlerhood, together with restricted interests and activities. Evidence for this is mainly found in studies with infants ages 1 year and older.

Is Asperger's hereditary or genetic? ›

The cause of Asperger syndrome, like most ASDs, is not fully understood, but there is a strong genetic basis, which means it does tend to run in families. Multiple environmental factors are also thought to play an important role in the development of all ASDs.

Can IVF prevent autism? ›

'The risk of autism appears to be largely modifiable by restricting IVF to single-embryo transfer,' Professor Bearman explained. 'Knowing that one can largely reduce the risk of autism by restricting the procedure to single-egg transfer is important for women who can then make better informed choices,' he added.

What is the main cause of autism? ›

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known.

How likely is an autistic mother to have an autistic child? ›

Family ties: Children with an autistic parent or siblings have nine times the usual odds of having autism. Children in families with a history of brain conditions are at increased odds of being autistic, a large study in Sweden suggests1.

Can autism be caused by the mother? ›

Autism is predominantly genetic in origin, but a growing list of preterm exposures for mother and baby may sway the odds.

How do you avoid having a child with autism? ›

Can You Prevent Autism?
  1. Live healthy. Have regular check-ups, eat well-balanced meals, and exercise. ...
  2. Don't take drugs during pregnancy. Ask your doctor before you take any medication. ...
  3. Avoid alcohol. ...
  4. Seek treatment for existing health conditions. ...
  5. Get vaccinated.
Sep 28, 2021


1. Natural & Healthy with Barbara O'Neill
(Greeneville Seventh-day Adventist Church)
2. STAR Trainings: Genetics and Genetic Testing for Autism I Kennedy Krieger Institute
(Kennedy Krieger Institute)
3. Genetics and Autism Spectrum Disorder – Part Two
4. Your Genetic Questions Answered: Dr. Daryl Scott Genetics and Autism 1 of 3
(Mountain States Genetics)
5. The Genetics of Autism
(University of California Television (UCTV))
6. Autism and Genetics
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