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Marjorie Bekaert Thomas
Advances in health and medicine.
Autism Channel
Reported July 9, 2012

Links between Autism, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder

(Ivanhoe Newswire) - Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a group of complex disorders that affect brain development. The disorders are characterized by a variety of symptoms including lack of proper verbal and non-verbal communication, difficulty interacting with others, and repetition in behaviors.

1 in 88 children suffer from autism, and researchers have now discovered common links between schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and autism.

 Dr. Patrick F. Sullivan of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with his colleagues, used registers in Sweden and Israel to examine whether family history of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or both were risk factors for ASD.

"About 30 years ago, there was a pretty sharp line that demarcated common factors between autism and schizophrenia, which is how this research came about," said Dr. Patrick F. Sullivan of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"Thinking about the nature of the disorders, both are brain function disorders yet different, from birth onward, autism is pretty noticeable, whereas schizophrenia goes through stages of development, one could essentially go through decades acting normally," Sullivan was quoted as saying.

The clinical and contributing factor of the relationship between ASDs and schizophrenia is unknown, and bipolar disorder was included given its overlap with schizophrenia, according to the study background.

Researchers conducted a case-control evaluation of histories of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in first-degree relatives of probands (the patients who met the criteria for ASD) from three group samples: two in Sweden and a third of conscripts (recruits to military service) in Israel.

"There were three samples of the same group of similar people, this boosts confidence, you can take it to the bank," said Dr. Patrick F. Sullivan.

"Our findings indicate that ASD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders share etiologic risk factors. We suggest that future research could usefully attempt to discern risk factors common to these disorders," the authors comment

Dr. Sullivan also noted that there is a similar study on the common links of these disorders being conducted in Denmark.

SOURCE: Archives of General Psychiatry, July 2012


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