Till now, there is no definitive cause of autism found. Although research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental influences. Please note that both genetic as well as environmental factors may cause an increased risk but not everyone who is exposed to the environmental factors or has certain genes would develop autism. It just happens in rare cases.
In some cases, the cause of autism can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome. For other children, genetic changes (mutations) may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Under environmental factors, studies are going on to determine if viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of United States stated that the scientists found some “rare gene changes or mutations and small common genetic variations” in people with autism. This implies that there is a genetic component. Scientists are doing research focusing on the interaction of genetic and environmental factors. “For example, a woman’s exposure to harmful contaminants during pregnancy may trigger a genetic mutation leading to autism in her child”.
Risk factors include older parental age, low birth weight, prematurity and maternal use of valproic acid or thalidomide during pregnancy, among others. Please note that despite various myths, autism is not caused by vaccines, diet, or parenting.
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