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Autism and Schizophrenia Linked to Genetic Mutation

Autism RibbonThere have been a lot of stories in the news that talk about autism. Many of these stories start out by mentioning that they have found the cause for autism. Later, as the story unfolds, it often turns out that there really wasn’t as much of a link between autism and whatever the cause was said to be. But, the headlines always sound as though the definitive cause, or the absolute cure, for autism has been discovered. So, I always read, or listen to, those kind of stories very carefully.

I ran across a news article that sounded scientifically valid. A new study reveals that people who have a specific deletion on chromosome 17 are 14 times more likely to develop autism or an autism spectrum disorder than people who do not have this particular deletion. The same study also found that people with this same deletion are 14 times more likely to have a developmental delay, or to have schizophrenia.

Not every person who has autism, an autism spectrum disorder, a developmental delay, or schizophrenia will have the deletion on chromosome 17. It is possible for a person to have one of these disorders without having the mutated chromosome. However, the study showed that all of the people who did have this specific deletion did develop some form of these kinds of disorders, and that the severity can range from mild to strong. It seems that this deletion on chromosome 17 is linked to autism, and the other disorders.

I find this news fascinating. This discovery is not the cure for autism, or for the other disorders. It might not even be the cause. But, it does show a link between the deletion, and the tendency towards that person developing one of these types of disorders in their lifetime. The study also found that many of the people who have a deletion on chromosome 17 also had other health problems, like renal cysts, and diabetes. I think this means that more studies are needed in order to understand how this all goes together. I have a family member who has an autism spectrum disorder. This study makes me wonder if he has the deletion on chromosome 17 that was pointed out in this study.

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