A new study scheduled for publication in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders links a woman’s history of severe child abuse to her own children’s chances of developing autism.
In looking at 209 autistic children and more than 800 non-autistic kids the researchers found what they’re calling a “strong” association between the abuse the moms experienced and autism in their offspring. The scientists explain that the women who have a past history of severe child abuse tend to choose sexual partners who score highly on tests that measure for what medical experts call “autistic traits”.
And that’s important because since autism seems to run in families, the assumption has long been that there is a genetic predisposition for the disorder. The researchers behind this study say that autistic traits in the parents account for 20% of the association between the mother’s history of abuse and the children’s autism.