Autism diagnoses more common in IT-rich regions

Autism genes appear linked to adaptive, advantageous traits


A new study from Cambridge University had found that autism is more commonly diagnosed in regions rich in information technology (IT). The study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, was conducted in three geographical regions in the Netherlands, including Eindhoven, a major technology and industrial hub. The two control regions had similar-sized populations and a similar socioeconomic class. They found that school-reported prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in Eindhoven was 229 per 10,000, much higher than Haarlem and Utrecht (84 per 10,000 and 57 per 10,000 respectively). “These results are in line with the idea that in regions where parents gravitate towards jobs that involve strong ‘systemizing’, such as the IT sector, there will be a higher rate of autism among their children, because the genes for autism may be expressed in first degree relatives as a talent in systemizing. The results also have implications for explaining how genes for autism may have persisted in the population gene pool, as some of these genes appear linked to adaptive, advantageous traits,” said Simon Baron-Cohen, director of the University of Cambridge’s Autism Research Centre, who led the study.

Cambridge University

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