Risk of autism associated with when and where forebearers lived
Researchers found associations between autism risk in Utah children and their parents' and grandparents' location history.
When and where are often vital clues for epidemiologists, the medical detectives who help solve the underlying mysteries of disease. The technique dates back to at least 19th century London, where a physician named John Snow mapped cholera deaths and traced the source of the outbreak to a single well in the city. Once the well was closed, the epidemic ended.
Taking this idea to a new level, University of Utah Health scientists, using a unique combination of geographic and population data, recently concluded that when and where parents and grandparents of Utah children were born and raised could contribute to an increased risk of autism among their offspring.