The Duke University of Medicine is leading a five year innovative research project testing how umbilical cord blood could improve the lives of children with autism spectrum disorder or ASD. The study is being led by Dr. Joanne Kurtzberg, one of the most accomplished cord blood researchers in North America.

But a new study jointly conducted by Swedish and American researchers attempts to provide answers to the question of what causes autism. The research suggests commonly inherited genetics account for 49 percent of a person’s possibility to develop symptoms of autism.

The study tested over 450 patients in Sweden who have been diagnosed with autism between the years 1982 and 2007. Data stored within Sweden’s healthcare records was used to compare the risks of autistic symptoms in various family members, such as siblings or cousins.

Joseph Buxbaum is a professor of medicine at a New York hospital, and was one of the leading authors of the study. According to Professor Buxbaum, identifying shared as well as unique genetics among family members could potentially explain the most common symptoms of autism.

“Although each exerts just a tiny effect individually, these common variations in the genetic code add up to substantial impact, taken together.”

The new study could change how scientists measure a person’s likelihood of developing autism. Previous research suggested rare genetic DNA strands were the leading causes of autistic behaviour.

Buxbaum says the next step is to determine which specific genetic strands, common or rare are the most likely causes of autism. Further tests may even have an impact on Dr. Kurtzberg’s ASD cord blood clinical trial in North Carolina.

More details about the new autism study are available by following the link here.