The UCLA-University of Utah epidemiologic survey of autism: genealogical analysis of familial aggregation

Am J Med Genet. 1990 May;36(1):85-8. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320360116.


To assess familial aggregation of autism, 86 autistic subjects were linked to the Utah Genealogical Database. Kinship coefficients were estimated for all possible pairs of autistic subjects and then averaged. Fifty replicate sets of matched control subjects (86 members in each set) were drawn randomly from the database, and the average kinship coefficient was computed for all possible pairs of individuals in each set. The average kinship coefficient for the autistic subjects was approximately 1/1,000, while the average kinship coefficients for the 50 control groups ranged from 4/100,000 to 1.6./10,000. These results indicate a strong tendency for autism to cluster in families. When kinship was analyzed by specific degrees of relationship, it was shown that the familial aggregation of autism is confined exclusively to sib pairs and does not extend to more remote degrees of relationship. This finding indicates that a single-gene model is unlikely to account for most cases of autism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / epidemiology
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Information Systems
  • Male
  • Utah / epidemiology