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What Causes Autism? The Who, What and Why of Autism Spectrum Disorder

What Causes Autism | Autism Spectrum Disorder CausesThe general term of Autism is used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders. This group of disorders includes Asperger's Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. Each disorder has a varying level of severity and combinations of symptoms in autism.

What Causes Autism

Today’s most recent scientific evidence points toward the potential for various combinations of factors which may cause autism.

  • Multiple Genetic Components – these may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to environmental factors yet unknown.

  • Timing of Exposure During the Child's Development – (before, during or after birth)

  • Genetic Disorders – a small number of cases can be linked to genetic disorders such as Fragile X, Tuberous Sclerosis, and Angelman's Syndrome. Studies also link possible causes to exposure to environmental agents such as infectious diseases or chemicals during pregnancy.

  • Immune System Disorders – researchers are investigating the role of the functions and regulation of the immune system in autism – both within the body and the brain.

  • Vaccines – testing still continues to discover the truth behind the MMR vaccine and a possible link to autism.

Who Does Autism Affect

Autism has been said to be the fastest growing special-needs disorder in the world. During the ten year period between 1992 and 2001, the US had an incredible 900% increase in the cases of autism. Autism affects all races, ethnic groups, and socioeconomic levels. Boys are four times more likely to develop autism than girls (1 in every 41 males has it). A new case of autism is diagnosed nearly every 20 minutes in the U.S. There are an estimated 1.5 million people in the US with autism. Autism is the only dramatically rising mental disorder. Mental Retardation, Down syndrome, and Cystic Fibrosis remain relatively the same.

A Cure for Autism

Though the causes of autism are still unclear, researchers continue to study autism in hopes to better understand, treat and prevent its occurrence. It is the duty of mankind to educate and extend awareness through support of the autism research community.

For more information about what causes Autism, view our additional articles.

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