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Link Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Illness and Autism?

Link Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Autism?New research suggests autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may share origins with other mental illnesses — including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

ASD includes conditions characterized by difficulty with social interaction and communication, or repetitive behaviors, including autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.

Mark Weiser, M.D., of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center, noted that schizophrenia and bipolar share many common traits, including social and cognitive dysfunction and impaired ability to lead normal lives and function in the real world.

Weiser and his team studied extensive databases in Israel and Sweden and discovered that schizophrenia and autism had a genetic link, representing a heightened risk within families.

They found that people who have a schizophrenic sibling are 12 times more likely to have autism than those with no schizophrenia in the family. The presence of bipolar disorder in a sibling showed a similar pattern of association, but to a lesser degree.

In the study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, researchers used three data sets (one in Israel and two in Sweden) to determine the familial connection between schizophrenia and autism. The Israeli database included anonymous information about more than a million soldiers, including patients with schizophrenia and ASD.

“We found the same results in all three data sets,” said Weiser, noting that the ability to replicate the findings across these extensive databases is what makes this study so significant.

Researchers believe the genetic connection could be a missing link and provide a fresh direction for study.

Despite the similar familial origins, Weiser believes the findings shouldn’t influence the way that doctors treat patients with either illness.

Source: American Friends of Tel Aviv University

Link Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Illness and Autism?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Link Between Schizophrenia, Bipolar Illness and Autism?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 21, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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