Environment May Be as Important as Genes in Causing Autism

For decades, most autism experts blamed the brain disorder on faulty genes. Now, groundbreaking new research is offering further evidence that factors during pregnancy and birth may play a larger role in the disorder than previously thought.

The environment is more important than genetics in setting the risk

Dr. Peter Szatmari, an autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioural neuroscience at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., believes that with every new study that emerges, scientists get closer to understanding what causes autism.

“We’re way closer than we were five or 10 years ago,” Szatmari told CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday.

One study advancing the knowledge into the complex brain disorder was published this week in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study looked at the prevalence of autism by studying 192 sets of twins where at least one of the twins was affected with autism.

Some of the twins were identical — meaning they came from one fertilized egg and were genetically identical — and some were fraternal, twins. Fraternal, or non-identical, twins share no more genetic material than siblings born years apart.

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Categories: Genetics

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