Environmental factors might cause autism
Latest studies conducted on the cause and manifestation of autism has revealed that environmental factors play a vital role in the condition. The study has also included condition in the womb as a factor influencing the origin of the disease. The study was conducted on twins and results displayed unexpected results. Autism is a disease that attacks one percent of the world’s population. Although researchers are yet to reveal the exact environmental factors that cause autism, they have established that the surrounding atmosphere does have a say in causing the disease. The study is expected to open doors for further insight into the different aspects of this nervous disorder.
Details of the study
In order to ascertain these facts, scientists studies 192 pairs of twins where one or both the children has symptoms of autism. The study group consisted of both fraternal and identical twins. When one of the twins had autism symptoms such as withdrawal syndromes, problems in communications etc, the other child also showed minor symptoms, although not as precisely as the other one. By studying both identical and fraternal twins, scientists were able to draw precise conclusions regarding the correlation between genes and common environmental conditions because identical twins have 100% identical genes and fraternal twins have 50% similar genes.
Results of the study
The study showed that in 77% of cases involving male identical twins, autism occurred in both the children. Interestingly, the percentage came down to 50% in identical girl twins. When fraternal twins were compared, it was found that only 31% of boys were found autistic while 36% girls were diagnosed with the disease. Mathematical modeling showed that only 38% cases are due to genetic factors. This has proved that environmental condition, which is the other common factor has influenced incidence of autism.
A shift from conventional notions
While autism was initially known to be caused due to lack of proper bonding between mother and child, studies conducted later on proved that genetic disorders cause the disease. The latest research adds a new dimension to the causes of autism by including environmental factors. These factors, especially in the womb, might cause genetic deformation that may lead to the disease, according to the prominent autism researcher Dr. Peter Szatmari.
Autism may be caused by different factors
The lead author of this latest study, Dr. Joachim Hallmayer who is the assistant professor in psychiatry in Stanford, said that environmental factors are as significant as genetic factors in the cause and manifestation of autism. Besides these factors, age of parents, infection in the prenatal stage, infection to expecting mother, underweight new born and multiple pregnancies are the other factors that may have a role to play in autism.