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Broader Autism Phenotype in Parents of Children with Autism: A Systematic Review of Percentage Estimates

Abstract

The broader autism phenotype (BAP) is a collection of sub-diagnostic autistic traits more common in families of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than in the general population. BAP is a latent construct that can be defined using different domains, measured using multiple instruments, and reported using different techniques. Therefore, estimates of BAP may vary greatly across studies. Our objective was to systematically review studies that reported occurrence of BAP in parents of children with ASD in order to quantify and describe heterogeneity in estimates. We systematically searched PubMed and Scopus using PRISMA guidelines for studies quantifying percentage of parents of children with ASD who had BAP. We identified 41 studies that measured BAP in parents of children with ASD. These studies used eight different instruments, four different forms of data collection, and had a wide range of sample sizes (N = 4 to N = 3299). Percentage with BAP ranged from 2.6% to 80%. BAP was more prevalent in fathers than mothers. Parental BAP may be an important tool for parsing heterogeneity in ASD etiology and for developing parent-mediated ASD interventions. However, the variety in measurement instruments and variability in study samples limits our ability to synthesize estimates. To improve measurement of BAP and increase consistency across studies, universal methods should be accepted and adopted across studies. A more consistent approach to BAP measurement may enable efficient etiologic research that can be meta-analyzed and may allow for a larger evidence base that can be used to account for BAP when developing parent-mediated interventions.

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Acknowledgements

This study was funded by Autism Speaks grant 10052.

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Correspondence to Eric Rubenstein or Devika Chawla.

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This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors. E.R. conceived of the study idea and design. E.R. and D.C conducted the literature search and review. E.R. organized and drafted the manuscript. E.R. and D.C. reviewed and edited the manuscript.

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Rubenstein, E., Chawla, D. Broader Autism Phenotype in Parents of Children with Autism: A Systematic Review of Percentage Estimates. J Child Fam Stud 27, 1705–1720 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-018-1026-3

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Keywords

  • Broader autism phenotype
  • Review
  • Endophenotype
  • Parent
  • ASD