Background: The rates and types of psychiatric disorders were studied in the parents of individuals with infantile autism (IA). Sampling and Methods: To estimate the prevalence and types of psychiatric disorders, the parents of 115 individuals with IA and the parents of 330 controls from the general population were screened through the nationwide Danish Psychiatric Central Register covering a period of 33 years. The IA individuals had been seen as in-patients at two university clinics of child psychiatry during a 25-year period and had been referred from the entire country of Denmark. Results: Psychiatric disorders were found in 15.7% of mothers with autistic children, which was significantly higher than the 8.2% found in the control group. The only diagnostic category in which a statistically significant overrepresentation could be found was that of personality disorder. A personality disorder diagnosis was found in 7.8% of mothers with autistic children in comparison to 2.1% of mothers in the control group. Conclusion: The findings so far suggest that in future studies it is important to pay attention to issues such as relatives examined, control groups and methods of data collection.

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