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Identical autistic twins can present significant differences in severity levels

Press Release

Although they share virtually the same DNA, identical twins with autism spectrum disorders can present significant differences in the severity of the same symptoms. This is the report of research funded by the National Institutes of Health and conducted by John Constantino of the School of Medicine at Washington University in St. Louis.

Autism spectrum disorder can affect a person’s behavior patterns, especially those he or she adopts when interacting with others or learning. Very interesting, in this sense, are the studies that can be done on monozygotic twins who are both autistic. When an identical twin is characterized by one or more disorders of the autistic spectrum, in fact, it is very likely that the other twin is also affected. In fact, the same press release presenting this research speaks of a 96% probability.

However, in the course of this study, during which researchers analyzed data from 366 pairs of identical twins with and without autism spectrum disorders, the researchers found that the severity levels and symptoms of autism even of identical twins can reveal significant differences and the scores for severity levels of autism can vary greatly between twins.

According to the researchers, the genetic factors that can contribute to autism spectrum disorders do not exceed 9%, at least for these identical twins.

Currently we do not know the reasons for these differences in the severity of the symptoms of autism but, in addition to excluding the genetic profile, researchers also exclude possible environmental factors because these twins have grown up in the same environment. This means that further studies will be needed to understand these differences.

Kelly Owen