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Researchers Identify Autism Gene Glitch

A new large study finds that a rare genetic variation dramatically raises the risk of developing autism.

And experts say that could open new research targets for better understanding the disorder and for treating it.

Research into the causes of autism has focused on genetic causes because so many families have multiple children with the disorder. Thus far, only about 10 percent of autism cases have a known genetic cause.

But Boston-area researchers estimate the gene glitch they've identified accounts for another 1 percent of cases.

They found a segment of a chromosome which has genes linked to brain development and various developmental disorders was either missing or duplicated far more often in autistic people.

The defect was inherited in some cases, but more often the result of a random genetic accident.

This program aired on January 10, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.

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