The study was led by researchers at King's College London, Karolinska Institute in Sweden and Mount Sinai in US.

The findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggest heritability is only half the story, with the other 50 percent explained by environmental factors such as birth complications, socio-economic status, or parental health and lifestyle.

The study looked at over two million people and showed that children with an autistic brother or sister are 10 times more likely to develop autism; three times if they have a half-brother or sister; and twice if they have a cousin with autism.

This is the first study to provide such a comprehensive and far reaching analysis of individual risk extended as far as cousins.


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