LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new study released Thursday has discovered dozens of genes that can increase a person’s risk of having autism.

The study, spearheaded by UCLA researchers, mapped the DNA of 2,300 people from almost 500 families and found 69 genes that could increase a child’s risk for autism spectrum disorder.

Of those 69 genes, 16 had not been previously suspected of being linked to autism, according to a news release from UCLA.

Researchers discovered that parents of children with autism carried much more of these high-risk genes than parents of children without autism.

“When we look at parents of autistic children and compare them to individuals without autism, we find that those parents carry significantly more, rare and highly damaging gene variants,” co-lead author Elizabeth Ruzzo, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar, wrote in a statement. “Interestingly, these variants are frequently passed from the parents to all of the affected children but none of the unaffected children, which tells us that they are significantly increasing the risk of autism.”

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The researchers studied families with at least two children with autism. Of the children in the study, 960 had autism and 217 did not.

The study was published in the most recent edition of the journal Cell. It also included researchers from Stanford and three other colleges.

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