New findings that have emerged from the Swedish medical registries suggest that parents of children with autism have double chances of having been hospitalized for a psychiatric condition than parents of children without autism. Such important information will hopefully enable experts to start untangling the complex genetic and environmental interactions involved in different psychiatric conditions.

Although there is no evidence of specific transmission of specific psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, depression or personality disorders across generations, there could be a complex genetic diathesis, a genetic vulnerability that increases the chances for autism and maybe even other psychiatric illness mediated by unknown developmental and psychosocial variables that are associated with the 'turning on and off' of certain genes.

The researchers are hoping that these study results may bring some more genetic ties to more cases of autism.

The medical data revealed that if both mothers and fathers had schizophrenia, their children were roughly twice as likely to have autism. If only a mother was depressed, neurotic or had some kind of personality disorders, she faces an increased risk of having a child diagnosed with autism.

These findings should serve as a base and stimulate further research. They suggest that mental disorders are more complex than our simple-minded categorical approach to diagnosis and that the boundaries between diagnoses were less clear, and that a more developmental approach should be made in order to understand psychiatric illness in their complexity.