(UPI) -- Autism spectrum disorders appear to share a root cause with other mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, researchers in Israel say.
Dr. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine and the Sheba Medical Center said at first glance, schizophrenia and autism may look like completely different illnesses, but closer inspection revealed many common traits, including social and cognitive dysfunction.
Weiser and colleagues used extensive databases in Israel and Sweden and discovered the two illnesses had a genetic link, representing a heightened risk within families.
They found 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, the study said.
The findings were published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.