Home > Got Questions?, Science > What is the recurrence rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in siblings of children with ASD?

What is the recurrence rate of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in siblings of children with ASD?

“Got Questions?” is a new weekly feature on our blog to address the desire for scientific understanding in our community.  We received over 3000 responses when we asked what science questions were on your mind.

Studies of sibling recurrence done in the past decades usually reported between 2-6% of younger siblings of children with autism were eventually diagnosed with autism.  However, it was thought that these numbers may be an underestimate, because they included low numbers of families and looked at just autism in the child and the younger sibling.

Because of the elevated risk of autism in younger siblings, new research designs have allowed for prospective, longitudinal research of individuals “at risk” for autism – that is they have an older sibling with an autism diagnosis.  Autism Speaks supports a consortium of these researchers known as the High Risk Baby Siblings Research Consortium or BSRC.  Using this design, the recurrence of autism as well as other disorders, including language problems, can be ascertained.  Recent reports have indicated that about 10-15% of younger siblings of children with autism are diagnosed with an ASD.  In addition,, a recently published study by a BSRC investigator working together with the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) found that 20% of siblings (without ASD) had delayed language development.   Together, this adds to evidence that autism and related developmental delays in language have a genetic component.  It is important to keep in mind that the information about ASD recurrence risk rates cited in this article are based on population-based statistics. The ASD recurrence risk rates for individual families vary.

Parents with who have a child with ASD who are concerned that a sibling may be showing symptoms of ASD should bring their concerns to their pediatrician or primary health care provider.  Other resources include the following:

  1. Katie Wright
    October 14, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    While it is always important to have all the information possible before having another child the major scientific priority needs to be uncovering some of autism’s causes and developing better interventions.

    Early intervention is critically important but that is a battle that needs to fought on a state level. We already have all the evidence necessary proving EI is a good investment and help kids.

  2. mandy fostervold
    October 14, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I am a mother of a 5 year old autistic boy wom loves to run away everytime i leave house so all i came up wtih is not leave him with anyone

  3. mandy fostervold
    October 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I moved from Iowa and Kearney Nebraska seems like they have leads for me to get my son respit, his OT and all that they seem like they have no help for autistic children past age 4

  4. Julie A.
    October 16, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I know that children are being diagnosed at an alarming rate. Is there as much emphasis on the environmental research as genetic research? I have a 7 year old son on the spectrum. I was pregnant and had him at the last house we lived in. I have since moved away. I recently found out my neighbor across the street has two boys with autism. One is about a year older and one is about a year younger than my son. Her pregnancies were also in that neighborhood, in fact the same street (a small court). Then I also found out there is another boy that lived on the street behind me that also has autism. Really makes me wonder?

  5. Katie Wright
    October 19, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    No, Julie there is not enough emphasis on environmental research. Brain science and genetic research still outstrip environmental research 10:1. This has to change if we ever expect to make progress on causation factors.

    We need environmental research on air pollution, proximity to coal burning power plants, how the increase in PCBs from China are affecting Californian children, BPAs, toxic vaccine adjuvant interactions, high levels of mercury in fish…..If we could divert even 10% of the research monies allotted towards eye gazing we could really make a difference.

  1. November 22, 2010 at 6:55 pm

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