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Strong Genetic Influences on the Stability of Autistic Traits in Childhood

Holmboe, K and Rijsdijk, FV and Hallett, V and Happ�, F and Plomin, R and Ronald, A (2014) 'Strong Genetic Influences on the Stability of Autistic Traits in Childhood.' Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 53 (2). pp. 221-230. ISSN 0890-8567

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Objective - Disorders on the autism spectrum, as well as autistic traits in the general population, have been found to be both highly stable across age and highly heritable at individual ages. However, little is known about the overlap in genetic and environmental influences on autistic traits across age and the contribution of such influences to trait stability itself. The present study investigated these questions in a general population sample of twins. Method - More than 6,000 twin pairs were rated on an established scale of autistic traits by their parents at 8, 9, and 12 years of age and by their teachers at 9 and 12 years of age. Data were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results - The results indicated that, consistently across raters, not only were autistic traits stable, and moderately to highly heritable at individual ages, but there was also a high degree of overlap in genetic influences across age. Furthermore, autistic trait stability could largely be accounted for by genetic factors, with the environment unique to each twin playing a minor role. The environment shared by twins had virtually no effect on the longitudinal stability in autistic traits. Conclusions - Autistic traits are highly stable across middle childhood. and this stability is caused primarily by genetic factors.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; autistic traits; behavior genetics; longitudinal
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2014 16:22
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:27

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