A new study of twins proposes the controversial claim that environmental influences during early development are just as, if not more, important than genetics.
The findings, published 4 July in the Archives of General Psychiatry, are not substantially different from those of previous twin studies, however, and some experts are critical of the study’s statistics.
Many articles in the popular press have misinterpreted the report as saying that genetics is not important in autism. But the point of the new study is not to point the finger solely at environmental factors, says lead investigator Joachim Hallmayer, associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University.
“We should get this nature-nurture distinction behind us and embrace a broad approach to autism,” Hallmayer says. “We have to somehow better integrate environmental studies and genetic studies.”
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