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Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 46:9 (2005), pp 963–971 doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00391.x Effects of familial risk factors and place of birth on the risk of autism: a nationwide register-based study Marlene Briciet Lauritsen,1 Carsten Bøcker Pedersen,2 and Preben Bo Mortensen2 1 Centre for Basic Psychiatric Research, Psychiatric Hospital in Aarhus, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark; 2National Centre for Register-based Research, University of Aarhus, Denmark Background: The etiology of autism is unknown. A strong genetic component has been detected but non-genetic factors may also be involved in the etiology. Methods: We used data from the Danish Psychiatric Central Register and the Danish Civil Registration System to study some risk factors of autism, including place of birth, parental place of birth, parental age, family history of psychiatric disorders, and paternal identity. Results: A total of 943,664 children younger than ten years were followed from 1994 to 2001; of those, 818 children developed autism. The highest risks of autism were found in siblings of children with autism, or Asperger‘s syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs), with relative risks of 22 and 13, respectively. The relative risk of autism in the child was about twice as high if the mother had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. The risk of autism was associated with increasing degree of urbanisation of the child’s place of birth and with increasin ...
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