Friday, July 12, 2024

What Do Scientists Believe Causes Autism

Don't Miss

Are Environmental Factors A Significant Cause Of Autism

Scientists find new evidence in search for autism cause

Environmental influences may be risk factors for autism. Research into this area is ongoing, and no true consensus exists.

There is no known cause of autism. Researchers believe that there is a significant genetic component to the disorder, but many other factors, such as environmental exposure, have been shown in studies to contribute to autism spectrum disorder.

New Research On Autism And Our Environment

Sex hormones, medications, certain metals such as lead, pesticides, and chemicals used to make plastic hard or pliable have long been suspected of having a role in autism. They have not been proven to cause autism, but these are known to trigger or worsen other health problems, including some that affect the brain. Many studies have shown that chemical exposures during development in the womb can have much more serious health effects than the same exposures would in adults.

A large 2014 study investigated the connection between autism and genital malformations using health insurance claims from almost a third of the U.S. population. Like autism, genital malformations are increasing: cases of undescended testicle increased 200% between 1970 and 1993, and the percentage of boys born with a deformity of the penis known as hypospadia doubled. Many studies have shown that these malformations are more common among children whose mothers have high levels of chemicals that affect the hormones in their bodies, such as phthalates which are found in cleaning products, medicines, and personal care products like shampoos and creams The link between these chemicals and genital malformations has surfaced in other studies, particularly those involving women in professions that require working daily with these chemicals.

What Is The Difference Between Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorder

The term autism was changed to autism spectrum disorder in 2013 by the American Psychiatric Association. ASD is now an umbrella term that covers the following conditions:

  • Autistic disorder.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified .
  • Asperger syndrome.

People with ASD have trouble with social interactions and with interpreting and using non-verbal and verbal communication in social contexts. Individuals with ASD may also have the following difficulties:

  • Inflexible interests.
  • Insistence on sameness in environment or routine.
  • Repetitive motor and sensory behaviors, like flapping arms or rocking.
  • Increased or decreased reactions to sensory stimuli.

How well someone with ASD can function in day-to-day life depends on the severity of their symptoms. Given that autism varies widely in severity and everyday impairment, the symptoms of some people arent always easily recognized.

You May Like: Autism Puzzle Colors

Timing Of First Symptoms

Using a sophisticated movement analysis, videos from children eventually diagnosed with autism or not diagnosed with autism were coded and evaluated for their capacity to predict autism. Children who were eventually diagnosed with autism were predicted from movies taken in early infancy. This study supported the hypothesis that very subtle symptoms of autism are present in early infancy and argues strongly against vaccines as a cause of autism.

Myth #: Vaccines Aren’t Worth The Risk


Despite parent concerns, children have been successfully vaccinated for decades. In fact, there has never been a single credible study linking vaccines to long term health conditions.

As for immediate danger from vaccines, in the form of allergic reactions or severe side effects, the incidence of death are so rare they can’t even truly be calculated. For example, only one death was reported to the CDC between 1990 and 1992 that was attributable to a vaccine. The overall incidence rate of severe allergic reaction to vaccines is usually placed around one case for every one or two million injections.

Read Also: Is Keir Gilchrist Autistic In Real Life

Where Can I Get More Information

For more information on neurological disorders or research programs funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, contact the Institute’s Brain Resources and Information Network at:

Office of Communications and Public LiaisonNational Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeNational Institutes of HealthBethesda, MD 20892

NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

What Causes Autism And Why Are More And More Kids Being Diagnosed With It

Does a friend or family member have a child with autism? Autism rates seem to be skyrocketing. Among children who are 8 years old, autism has nearly doubled from 1 in 150 to 1 in 68 for children born in 2002.

Autism is part of a larger group of related conditions, called autism spectrum disorders , all of which usually involve delayed verbal communication and difficulties in social interactions. Studies suggest that children with autism tend to have other problems with how their brain functions, with as many as 20-30% developing seizures or epilepsy.

Read Also: Setting Up An Autism Classroom

Sex Differences In Sensory Processing In Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

Service des Troubles du Spectre de lAutisme et apparentés, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland


Anne Manuela Maillard, Service des Troubles du Spectre de lAutisme et apparentés CHUV, Les Allières, Av. de Beaumont 23, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Service des Troubles du Spectre de lAutisme et apparentés, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland


Anne Manuela Maillard, Service des Troubles du Spectre de lAutisme et apparentés CHUV, Les Allières, Av. de Beaumont 23, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland.

Dont Miss: What Is The Life Expectancy Of People With Autism

Restricted Or Repetitive Behaviors Or Interests

Scientists Hone In On The Risk Factors That Can Cause Autism | CNBC

People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by only problems with social communication and interaction.

Examples of restricted or repetitive interests and behaviors related to ASD can include:

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
  • Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel

Don’t Miss: Is Shaun From The Good Doctor Autistic In Real Life

Severity Levels For Autism Spectrum Disorder

Level 3 Requiring very substantial support

Social Communication Severe deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills cause severe impairments in functioning, very limited initiation of social interactions, and minimal response to social overtures from others. For example, a person with few words of intelligible speech who rarely initiates interaction and, when he or she does, makes unusual approaches to meet needs only and responds to only very direct social approaches

Restricted, Repetitive Behaviors Inflexibility of behavior, extreme difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/repetitive behaviors markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres. Great distress/difficulty changing focus or action.

Level 2 Requiring substantial support

Social Communication Marked deficits in verbal and nonverbal social communication skills social impairments apparent even with supports in place limited initiation of social interactions and reduced or abnormal responses to social overtures from others. For example, a person who speaks simple sentences, whose interaction is limited to narrow special interests, and how has markedly odd nonverbal communication.

Level 1 Requiring support

Restricted, Repetitive Behaviors Inflexibility of behavior causes significant interference with functioning in one or more contexts. Difficulty switching between activities. Problems with organization and planning.

By Claire Delano, BA

Myth #: Vaccines Contain Unsafe Toxins

People have concerns over the use of formaldehyde, mercury or aluminum in vaccines. It’s true that these chemicals are toxic to the human body in certain levels, but only trace amounts of these chemicals are used in FDA approved vaccines. In fact, according to the FDA and the CDC, formaldehyde is produced at higher rates by our own metabolic systems and there is no scientific evidence that the low levels of this chemical, mercury or aluminum in vaccines can be harmful. See section III of this guide to review safety information about these chemicals and how they are used in vaccines.

Read Also: Do Autistic Toddlers Dance

Is There A ‘cure’ For Autism

There is no known ‘cure’ for autism. We also believe that autism does not need a ‘cure’ and should be seen as a difference, not a disadvantage. We also warn people about fake cures and potentially harmful interventions here.

This does not mean that autistic people do not face challenges, but with the right support in place, they are more than capable of living fulfilling and happy lives. Because autism is a ‘spectrum’ condition it affects different people in different ways. It is therefore very difficult to generalise about how an autistic person will develop over time. Each person is different, and an intervention or coping strategy which works well with one person may not be appropriate or effective with another.The characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Two people with the same diagnosis can have a very different profile of needs and skills.

Myth #: Vaccines Cause Autism

Do You Know What Causes Autism? Researchers Have Made a ...

The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. The article was published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, suggesting that the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine was increasing autism in British children.

The paper has since been completely discredited due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet.

Nonetheless, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism.

You May Like: How To Tell If My Child Is Autistic

The Cost Of Vaccine Skepticism

Discover suggested that the emotional toll that autism can take on a family has led well-meaning people to desperately look for causes or solutions. Even as the rate of autism diagnoses increases, the origins and mechanisms of autism itself remain elusive. The Annual Review of Public Health calls autism spectrum disorders complex, lifelong, neurodevelopmental conditions of largely unknown cause.

With this in mind, Discover suggests that it is not surprising that desperate parents and caregivers could latch onto Andrew Wakefieds discredited theories, notwithstanding the medical support of vaccines.

The effects of this can be deadly. As recently as February 2020, a 4-year-old boy died from the flu in Colorado after his mother was advised by an anti-vax Facebook group to give her son vitamins, botanicals, fruits and vegetables, and not the prescription Tamiflu from the childs doctor. As the boys condition worsened, one member of the group told the mother to boil thyme on the stove.

The thread was removed from the Facebook group after news of the boys death broke. The owner of the group blamed the hospital for offering any real treatments.

To this day, Andrew Wakefield continues to campaign against the use of vaccines, maintaining the validity of his research and conclusions.

Do You Know What Causes Autism Researchers Have Made A Major Breakthrough

The cause of autism has long been researched and debated. The sensory processing disorder has been wrongly linked to everything from vaccinations to brain deficiencies and bad parenting. However, scientists now believe they know what causes autism or, at that very least, contributes to it.

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found genetics play a major role.

More from SheKnows

Of course, researchers have known there was a genetic component to autism, or ASD, for some time. However, the size and duration of this study proves just how impactful it can be. The most recent report looked at the medical histories of more than two million children between 1998 and 2012.

The current study results provide the strongest evidence to our knowledge to date that the majority of risk for autism spectrum disorders is from genetic factors, study author Sven Sandin, a statistician and epidemiologist with the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, told HuffPost.

Sardin admits additional research is necessary. This does not mean that we can completely ignore the environmental risk factors and their interaction with the genetic risk factors. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done. However, for parents and 1 in 59 children, it is a huge step in the direction.


Sign up for SheKnows’ Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on , , and .

Don’t Miss: Mild Autism Signs

What Are Some Common Signs Of Asd

Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.

The severity of ASD can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.

Social impairment and communication difficultiesMany people with ASD find social interactions difficult. The mutual give-and-take nature of typical communication and interaction is often particularly challenging. Children with ASD may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact with other people, and only interact with others to achieve specific goals. Often children with ASD do not understand how to play or engage with other children and may prefer to be alone. People with ASD may find it difficult to understand other peoples feelings or talk about their own feelings.

Common Questions About Vaccines And Autism

What Causes Autism?

Q: How does autism occur?

There are many variations of autism that appear on what is known as the spectrum. While many factors determine whether an infant will develop autism, a complete profile of causation is not known. It is largely believed to result from inherited genetic disposition and some environmental factors such as rubella or other viral exposure.

Q: What is herd immunity?

Herd immunity occurs when a significant portion of the population is immunized so that even those without immunization are less likely to contract a disease as it can no longer spread as easily. In this situation, the disease has been contained.

Q: What is vaccine shedding?

Known as viral shedding, vaccine shedding is when a person releases a live virus after being vaccinated by a live vaccine. It is very rare as only a few vaccines are made from live viruses, the rest being from dead viruses or isolated proteins.

Q: Is the MMR vaccine live?

The MMR vaccine is a blend of live Measles, Mumps, and Rubella viruses that have been weakened.

Also Check: Camel Milk Benefits Autism

How Is Asd Diagnosed

ASD symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. Symptoms may even go unrecognized for young children who have mild ASD or less debilitating handicaps.

Autism spectrum disorder is diagnosed by clinicians based on symptoms, signs, and testing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-V, a guide created by the American Psychiatric Association used to diagnose mental disorders. Children should be screened for developmental delays during periodic checkups and specifically for autism at 18- and 24-month well-child visits.

Very early indicators that require evaluation by an expert include:

  • no babbling or pointing by age 1
  • no single words by age 16 months or two-word phrases by age 2
  • no response to name
  • excessive lining up of toys or objects
  • no smiling or social responsiveness

Later indicators include:

  • impaired ability to make friends with peers
  • impaired ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • absence or impairment of imaginative and social play
  • repetitive or unusual use of language
  • abnormally intense or focused interest
  • preoccupation with certain objects or subjects
  • inflexible adherence to specific routines or rituals

Study Points Toward Treatment And Diagnosis

While scientists now understand ASD better as a result of this study, this kind of research also points toward better ways to help children with ASD.

The greatest benefit of studies of this type is helping researchers, families, and interventionists better understand how genetic factors actually function in the developing brain and body of the individual, said Warner, so that treatments can be developed to ameliorate or completely block the disruptive changes that lead to disorders such as ASD.

But Zwaigenbaum cautions that the results of the study will not lead to clinical benefits right away.

Theres a lot of translational work that would still need to happen in order to assess whether the findings from this study will directly inform assessment, diagnosis, or treatment, he said.

Still, he said the results provide direction for future research into potential biological treatments, as well as genetic tests that could allow earlier diagnosis of ASD.

Warner said there are medications currently approved for use in children with ASD, but they address symptoms like agitation or anxiety, rather than the core social or behavioral deficits of ASD.

Early diagnosis is another goal of ASD research, because the sooner children are identified and appropriately assessed, the sooner families can receive needed supports, said Warner.

But ASD is a complex condition, so genetic diagnosis isnt always straightforward.

Don’t Miss: Autistic Sexually Frustrated

More articles

Popular Articles

Is Adhd Similar To Autism