American Asperger's Association Support Group

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» **********echo*******************
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» More research (genetics)
Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:43 am by csweepigirl


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What Causes Autism?:

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1 What Causes Autism?: on Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:13 pm

csweepigirl

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What Causes Autism?: The bottom line is, no one really knows for sure what causes autism. Most experts will say that autism is probably caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Even those experts, though, do not have a definite answer. For many people, this uncertainty is terribly frustrating. On the plus side, interest in and funding for autism research is on the rise, so new and better information should be forthcoming in the next months and years.
A Controversial Topic: The question of what causes autism is highly controversial. Many people are passionate about the issue, and hold strong beliefs. Recent books, articles and TV programs have raised awareness -- and heated up the argument. This article provides an overview of different theories, all of which have strong supporters.
Do Vaccines Cause Autism?: There are two theories that link autism and vaccines. The first theory suggests that the MMR (Mumps-Measles-Rubella) vaccine may cause intestinal problems leading to the development of autism. The second theory suggests that a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal, used in some vaccines, could be connected to autism. To find out more, read Do Vaccines Cause Autism? and Is Autism on the Rise?.
Is Autism Genetic?: It is very likely that autism has a genetic basis of some sort. Many studies have shown that parents from families with autistic members are more likely to have autistic children. It is also the case that many families with one autistic child are at increased risk of having more than one autistic child. To find out more about autism and genetics, read Is Autism Genetic?
Is Autism Caused by Bad Parenting?: No. Dr. Kanner, the man who first identified autism as a unique condition, had the idea that cold “refrigerator” mothers caused autism. He was wrong. Dr. Kanner's misinterpretation of autism created a generation of parents carrying the guilt for their child's disability. Fortunately, our generation is spared that burden!
Is Autism Caused By Atypical Brain Development?: Some researchers have found differences between the autistic brain and the typical brain. Autistic individuals seem to have larger brains. They also seem to process information differently; in other words, their brains are "wired" differently. Research on this issue is ongoing at The University of Pittsburgh.
Is Autism an Immune Deficiency Problem?: There is some evidence that autism is linked to problems in the immune system. Autistic individuals often have other physical issues related to immune deficiency. Some researchers say they have developed effective treatments based on boosting the immune system. The NIH, however, states that the evidence is not yet strong enough to show a causal relationship.
Is Autism Caused By Food Allergies?: There is some evidence that allergies to certain foods could contribute to autistic symptoms. Most people who hold to this theory feel that gluten (a wheat product) and cassein (a dairy product) are the most signficant culprits. Explore the Autism Institute's website for more on this theory.
Is Autism Caused By Poor Nutrition?: It seems unlikely that malnutrition, per se, can cause autism. But megavitamin therapies have been used for many years to treat autistic symptoms. Dr. Bernard Rimland, of the Autism Institute, has been a leader in this area.
So...What DOES Cause Autism?: It seems likely, given the research so far, that several factors combine to cause autism. For example, it may be that certain children are genetically more susceptible to certain types of food allergies, or more likely to react badly to certain environmental toxins. Until we have more definitive answers, though, it seems to make sense to focus more on treatments -- and to support researchers as they learn more about causes.
Sources:
CDC Page on Vaccine Safety
Exploring Autism
"Finding Supports Theory That Autism Results From Failure of Brain Areas To Work Together"NIH News, November 2004
The Autism Institute

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