What causes autism? This is the ultimate question for those affected by autism spectrum disorders. Professionals and parents across the world have come to their own, sometimes differing, conclusions on the causes of autism. What is surprising is the controversy surrounding this very simple question. Read on to find out more about what might be the cause of autism.
Scientific research into the cause of autism would not be comprehensive without looking at environmental factors. Examples of environmental causes would be exposure to toxins, excessive ultrasounds during pregnancy, and even electronic devices. A study by Connor, et al looked at the link between terbutaline and autism. Terbutaline is a drug that is often used to stop pre-term labor in pregnant women. In the study, the continued use of terbutaline was associated with an increase in the likelihood of autism among twins. This is just one of the countless number of studies conducted that look at the link between environmental factors and exposures and autism spectrum disorders.
The likelihood of a genetic link to autism spectrum disorders is difficult to deny. Even though autism has only been a diagnosable condition since the release of the DSM in 1952, some families have a strong history of autism and autistic-like behaviors. Although not common, it is not unheard for a family to have multiple children that have an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. In those instances, professionals may only have to look as far as one of the parents to determine the origin of the child’s autism.
There have been numerous studies done with regards to autism and genetics but the most recent study has the most specific findings available to date. In January 2016, the results of the study were released announcing that a genetic variation was found on the 16th chromosome. This variation was not found in either of the child’s parent’s DNA leading researchers to now support the idea that a genetic anomaly may be the cause of some cases of autism.
The link between vaccines and autism is probably the most well known, and most debated, possible cause of autism. Numerous studies have been released both supporting the claim that some individuals do have vaccine-induced autism and refuting the idea that vaccines can cause autism. In 2015, the world watched as parents in the United States testified in a landmark case that vaccines were directly responsible for their child’s condition. The case is still in progress but the results will likely lead to more scientific research looking into the autism/vaccine link.
The only thing that is known is that no one definitively knows what causes autism. It is likely that there is no single cause of autism but that autism spectrum disorders are a result of a combination of factors. As more attention is being paid to autism, more funding is being dedicated to autism research. In time, this research might produce an answer to the question – what causes autism?