Study reveals the main factors of children 's "autism" Science and Technology -

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A scientific study of different people from five countries suggests that most differences in the risk of autism can be attributed to genetic causes rather than to environmental factors such as lifestyle, community characteristics and what happens during pregnancy. A long-held belief that "autism spectrum disorder", the scientific name of the disease, has genetic traits inherited, as previous research has suggested, but some of the inherited traits and behaviors and methods of mothers may play a role.

For the new study, the researchers examined birth data from 1998 to 2007 in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel and Western Australia. Overall, about 80 percent of the differences in autism risk were associated with inherited genetic traits, but that ranged from the lowest in Finland to 51 percent to the highest in Israel – 87 percent, the study found.

"The results show that genetic factors are the most important … but the environment also plays a role," said Sven Sanden, a senior researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. The study covered more than 2 million children for more than 680,000 families and continued until they were 16 years old and just over 22,000 were diagnosed with autism. The study also found that non-common environmental factors accounted for up to 27 percent of the differences in autism.

The so-called maternal effects, such as premature birth and certain health problems during pregnancy, did not seem to explain the differences in the risk of autism, the researchers said in the study, published in the journal Gamma Cicatri. "These results do not change what we do in terms of fighting or treating autism, but it suggests that we should consider testing," said Dr. Jeremy Finstra-Vanderwelly, co-author of a commentary article for the study, a psychiatrist at the Center for Autism and Brain Development at New York Hospital. Genetic use of the technology now available and in the use of other approaches may make progress over the next decade. " "Better understanding of genetic risks can lead to risk prediction prior to diagnosis in the future, allowing us to intervene before the diagnosis," the US psychiatrist said.

By Nidal al-Mughrabi GAZA (Reuters)

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