Familial Factors Influence Level of Functioning in Pervasive Developmental Disorder
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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether siblings with pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) tend to have the same type and number of PDD symptoms or a similar level of functioning. METHOD: The familial correlations for PDD subtype, symptom totals, adaptive behaviors, and nonverbal IQ were calculated for 94 children with PDD from 46 families. RESULTS: On variables measuring PDD symptoms, only impairments in nonverbal communication and verbal/nonverbal status tended to run true within families. There was no familial aggregation of PDD subtype. In contrast, measures of nonverbal IQ and adaptive behaviors in socialization and communication showed a moderate degree of familial resemblance. The degree of familial resemblance did not change if the analysis was restricted only to those families in which both affected children met criteria for autism. CONCLUSION: Insofar as the familial resemblance seen in PDD is due to genetic factors, these data provide some evidence that higher- and lower-functioning PDD children may arise from separate genetic mechanisms. Current gene-mapping studies of PDD may need to take this evidence of genetic heterogeneity into account.
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