Objective: The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that mild cognitive impairments aggregate in the unaffected first-degree relatives of probands with autism or pervasive developmental disorders (PDD).
Method: The unaffected siblings and parents of 52 PDD probands and 33 Down syndrome and low birth weight controls were administered a battery of psychometric tests. The tests included measures previously found to be depressed in siblings of autistic children as well as cognitive deficits seen in PDD subjects of normal IQ. In addition, the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales were administered to siblings to measure the social-communication impairments found in PDD.
Results: Neither the siblings nor parents of the PDD probands demonstrated lower cognitive or adaptive behavior scores compared with controls. Developmental histories did not reveal greater rates of social, cognitive, or language delays, nor was there evidence to suggest that relatives of subgroups of PDD probands were different from each other.
Conclusion: These findings indicate that, apart from relatives with PDD, cognitive and social impairments do not aggregate in the families of PDD probands.