Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Study: Environment May be Just as Important as Genes in Autism

This story keeps providing more hope for families who have a young or adult child on the spectrum. Realize I posted something yesterday, but this warrants additional mentions. Let us know your thoughts.

Autism is undeniably influenced by genes, but a new study suggests that environmental factors may also contribute significantly — more than researchers previously thought — to the developmental disorder. In fact, environmental factors may play at least as big a role as genes in causing autism.
Dr. Joachim Hallmayer, a psychiatrist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and his team report online in the Archives of General Psychiatry that shared environmental influences may account for as much as 55% of autism risk, while less than 40% can be attributed to genes.
The study modeled risk, but did not specify which environmental factors were at play. But other research has implicated increasing maternal and paternal age, low birth weight, multiple pregnancies and any medications or infections to which an expectant mom is exposed during pregnancy.

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