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What Environmental Factors Cause Autism

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At What Age Does Autism Appear

Role of Environmental Factors in Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones, until around 18 to 24 months of age and then they stop gaining new skills, or they lose the skills they once had.

How Robert F Kennedy Jr Distorted Vaccine Science

If Kennedy, who has claimed he is going to lead a presidential panel on vaccine safety, is truly interested in helping families with autism and making all children safer, then the $100,000 reward he and actor Robert De Niro offered during a recent publicity stunt to find an autism-thimerosal link would be better spent funding scientists doing research on the real causes of autism and how best to care for individuals diagnosed with the disease. Alternatively, that money could be spent toward reducing the existing public health threat of methylmercury.

Researchers and advocacy organizations have moved on from the vaccine-autism story line to focus on issues that truly affect families, such as understanding the real causes of autism, finding ways to diagnose it earlier, developing more effective treatments, and offering better access to those treatments. With every minute wasted talking about the autism-vaccine myth and every dollar spent on researching this dead end, we are losing ground and failing families who deserve real answers on the causes of autism and more help for their loved ones.

Alycia Halladay, PhD, is the chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation and an assistant adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Rutgers University.

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.

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What Causes Autism During Pregnancy

Studies are still looking into the factors that may contribute to the occurrence of autism.

Recent studies indicate that mutation and changes during conception and pregnancy, and even after delivery could increase risk of developing autism in children who are genetically predisposed to the disorder.

A study showed that the differences in the brains of the children could be detected as early as the second trimester of the pregnancy.

Although we do not have a definitive cause for autism, we know that it is developed through a combination of factors, including genetic and environmental factors.

It is not possible to change genetics. However, there are ways to limit exposure to certain environmental factors that have been shown to contribute to development of autism.

Although these are worth trying, it is not certain that lowering exposure will lower the childs risk for developing ASD.

The evidence we have about the environmental risk during pregnancy is still at its infancy. There are many ways to go.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2014 found that children who were born to mothers with iron deficiency are five times more likely to have autism.

This risk also increases if the mother is aged 35 or older. Metabolic conditions like obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes also contribute to the increase of the risk.

Various studies have shown connection between pregnancy exposure to air pollution and risk of developing autism.

Risk Identification And Reduction: Research And Safety Testing

Etiology of Autism

Research is an important component in the ultimate prevention of autism. However, research is most often after the fact and is reactive to emerging health threats that have already taken a heavy societal toll. In contrast, well-conceived safety testing of chemicals and drugs is far more likely to be proactive in the prevention of developmental conditions affecting the neurological and other systems. In the case of autism, increased prevalence that has emerged over the past 3040 years and the targeted research that has followed to date, have yet to produce a definite list of causative environmental factors. Still, safety testing today is not designed to detect the types of developmental disruptions that are likely to result in autism . Why is the primary response to this emerging health threat only to be found in research and not reflected in purposeful and effective changes to regulations that determine the safety of our drugs and chemicals? Recently, investigators focused on the developmental origins of chronic disease called for a more forceful role of public health officials to reduce the burden of disease established early in life . We concur with this appeal, which will require a different level of engagement on issues in developmental toxicity such as the prevention of autism.

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Do Environmental Factors Cause Autism

Several environmental factors increase the risk of autism, and they center around experiences in the pregnancy or infancy that may influence brain development. Premature birth and low birth weight raise the risk of autism, as do diabetes, high blood pressure, and infection during pregnancy. Having an older father is also a risk factor, likely because the chance of spontaneous genetic mutations increases with age.

There is some evidence of a correlation between exposure to air pollution during pregnancy or early childhood and the onset of autism. However, researchers are still working to understand this relationship. Pinning down the connection between autism and any single environmental factor is difficult because its nearly impossible to isolatethere are so many variables at play.

Is There A Cure For Autism

Currently, no treatment has been shown to cure ASD, but several interventions have been developed and studied for use with young children. These interventions may reduce symptoms, improve cognitive ability and daily living skills, and maximize the ability of the child to function and participate in the community .

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Environmental Factors & Autism

Many environmental factors have been linked to the likelihood that a child will be diagnosed with autism. Among them:

  • Older age of the mother or the father at the time of birth is a risk factor, according to the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica journal.
  • Having one autistic child increases the risk that a second child will also have the disability, but the exact degree of risk is not clear, writes JAMA Pediatrics.
  • Increased levels of air pollution during pregnancy , in combination with genetic factors , is a potential risk factor.
  • The Developmental Neurobiology journal wrote that extreme illness or infection during pregnancy, such as those caused by reactions to bacterial or viral infections, can be an environmental factor in the development of autism. Vaccinations can prevent some of these infections, writes Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
  • Other environmental factors that could be at play include obesity during pregnancy, premature birth or the child having low weight at birth, and other complications. The Journal of Psychiatric Research suggests that interactions with certain genes can elevate the risks for delayed neurological development.

What Prenatal Factors Increase The Risk Of Autism

Real Questions – Can environmental factors increase the risk of autism?

Taking the medications thalidomide or valproic acid during pregnancy can raise the risk of autism, according to the CDC. There is some research that antidepressant use during pregnancy increases the risk of autism, but that research is not yet definitive.

Other elements linked to a higher likelihood of developing autism include having an infection, autoimmune disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure during pregnancy. This may be due to the manner in which inflammation and the immune response influence the developing fetus. There also seem to be correlations between autism risk and pregnancies that are less than a year apart.

Some evidence indicates taking prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, vitamin B-9, and vitamin D may offer some protection and reduce the likelihood of autism.

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Environmental Factors In Autism Modes Of Action

Given this interconnectedness of many environmental and genetic factors associated with the development of autism, one can speculate how these risk factors might converge an a single hypothetical pathway by looking at possible similarities in the mode of action. Autism is caused by abnormalities in the structure or functions of the brain, but the underlying biological patho-mechanisms are currently not well understood. However, various recent studies have identified copy number variations as well as single nucleotide polymorphisms of neuronal genes in the genomes of ASD patients. Many of these genes encode proteins that are crucial components of excitatory glutamatergic synapses, including scaffold proteins such as Shank2, Shank3, SAPAP2 from the GKAP/SAPAP family of Shank interacting proteins, neural adhesion molecules, such as Neuroligins, Neurexins as well as Cadherins, Contactin, Contactin-associated protein, and other cell-adhesion molecules , calcium channels, and neurotransmitter receptors . Moreover, protein kinases and proteins that regulate protein syntheses have been identified as candidate genes associated with ASD. Mouse models for these genes underline their role in autism and hint towards a deregulation of excitatory synapses since all these proteins play a role at the synapse of glutamatergic neurons. Thus, these data imply a link between a synaptic pathology and the characteristics of ASD and shift the synaptic compartment in the focus of interest.

What Are The Environmental Causes Of Autism

What are the environmental causes of autism?

What is the main cause of autism? A common question after an autism diagnosis is what is the cause of autism. We know that theres no one cause of autism. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences. These influences appear to increase the risk that a child will develop autism.

Is autism caused by nature or nurture? We believe that in many children autism is caused by a joint contribution of nature and nurture our genes and the environments we grow up in. Even before we are born, those two factors act together to balance the intricate process of our early brain development.

What are the biological cognitive and environmental risk factors for autism spectrum disorder? These include, but are not limited to, advanced parental age, a sibling with ASD, prematurity, a history of ART, maternal diabetes, and maternal obesity, as well as the use of antiepileptic or antidepressant drugs.

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Environmental Causes Of Autism

Its time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism. Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Epidemiology Professor at University of California, Davis.

The latest twin study suggests that only genetics is not the causes of autism, the environmental factors may play a big role. Environmental factors include parental age at conception, the age difference between the father and mother, maternal nutrition, infection during the prenatal, natal and postnatal period. The environmental influences during pregnancy may significantly increase the risk for autism spectrum disorder among twins. During pregnancy, the fetus remains very vulnerable and prone to any damage. At this time the environmental lead, medications and a large variety of other synthetic molecules like pesticides, mercury, and aluminum can play havoc on the fetus which can be causes of autism.

The environment is being polluted always by different chemicals throughout the year. Only in the USA, about 1 billion pounds of pesticides are sprayed on the foods every year and the amount is about 5.6 billion pounds throughout the world.

The researchers have also suspected that a faulty gene or genes might make a person more likely to develop autism when there are also other factors present, such as a chemical imbalance, viruses or chemicals, or a lack of oxygen at birth.

Is There A Link Between Vaccines And Autism

Possible pathogenic mechanisms of autism by environmental ...

Image by, Pexels.comNo! This is a stubborn myth that persists despite being proven incorrect countless times by scientific research.

The myth stems from faulty research conducted by Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor in the 1990s. One of his studies claimed a link existed between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and autism in children.

This news caused global panic, especially in the United Kingdom and the United States, and parents began refusing to have their children vaccinated.

Countless subsequent studies have discovered no link between ASD and the MMR vaccine. Scientists and researchers who reviewed Wakefields work found his results were fraudulent and completely inaccurate. Lawyers had paid Wakefield to falsify the scientific results. The lawyers wanted the fake data to sue vaccine makers. Consequently, Wakefield was banned from practising medicine in Britain.

While the truth about Wakefields MMR research is known and countless studies have unanimously disproven the claim that the MMR vaccine causes ASD, the myth is still believed by many.

No links between vaccines and ASD exist in scientific research.

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What Does The Environment Have To Do With Autism

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September 21, 2017 If you look just at the numbers, you might think autism rates are spiraling out of control. The rates seemed high enough at 1 in 150 in 2000, when public health officials started tracking a steady rise in the syndrome in the United States. And by the time estimates finally flatlined in 2012 at 1 in 68, many parents had embraced unfounded theories blaming vaccines for an autism epidemic, helping to fuel outbreaks of measles and other once rare diseases.

Experts, however, attribute most of the upsurge to increased awareness, better access to services, and expanded criteria to diagnose the neurodevelopmental syndrome, which is characterized by restricted interests or behaviors and problems with communication and social interactions.

Mr Trump: Dont Become The First Anti

A prime example of the distraction associated with the vaccine/autism myth is the role of mercury. Mercury is released into the environment, primarily and other things that have mercury in them. Every hour, 11 pounds of mercury are released into the environment this way. As this mercury is distributed into the environment, bacteria convert it into methylmercury. This type of mercury can accumulate in food sources, such as fish, and also in our bodies. A high level of methylmercury in the body can affect brain development in children.

Another form of mercury, ethylmercury, isnt found in the environment. Instead, it is created in labs and was used in making thimerosal, a preservative in vaccines. While research has exonerated thimerosal as a risk factor for autism, it has been removed from most vaccines given to children under 6. Ethylmercury does not accumulate in the body and does not pose the same public health threat as methylmercury.

Scientists agree that methylmercury and ethylmercury have different toxicological and biological profiles, and should not be used interchangeably.

Mercury emissions from burning coal and medical waste can be reduced, which would minimize the potential harm to our children. The already strained EPA has had success doing that, but in order to continue reducing mercury in the environment, its activities need to be supported, not diminished. Mercury in the environment is not an issue one government agency, or one country, can address alone.

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Getting An Autism Diagnosis

Autism is diagnosed by a medical professional, often a pediatrician or specialist.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , an autistic person must have both social and behavioral patterns that meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder.

Someone might receive an autism diagnosis at 18 months or younger, but its more common to get diagnosed around 2 years old.

Still, some people dont get a diagnosis until much older or until adulthood.

When diagnosing ASD, clinicians may look for patterns in communication like:

  • difficulty with back-and-forth conversation
  • differences in nonverbal communication like facial expressions or body language
  • difficulty adjusting behavior to different social settings

A doctor may also look at these behavioral patterns when screening for autism:

  • specific movements, actions, or gestures
  • strong attachment to routine
  • specific, strong interests
  • differences in sensory processing

Many autistic people see autism as an identity, not as a condition to be treated. But if youre experiencing challenges related to being autistic, there are many ways to find support, depending on your needs.

If youre a parent of an autistic child, you can get some tips for how to support your child here. And if youre an autistic adult, you can learn more about strategies, support, and therapies here.

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