New Study Links Autism to Environmental Exposures

by Dagmar Bleasdale on July 13, 2011

Landon is not autistic, but nevertheless I’m very interested to learn why autism is increasing so rapidly and what the cause is.

Healthy Child Healthy World, who I blog for because they educate parents to protect children from harmful chemicals, just informed me that a new scientific study linking autism to environmental exposures has rocked the pediatric health care community. That’s important information I want to pass on to you. Maybe your family is affected by autism, or maybe this information can help prevent future cases of autism.

On Monday, the story broke that researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University conducted a study of 192 pairs of twins and found that genetics account for about 38 percent of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for about 63 percent. The study will be published in November in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

To say that this is important is an understatement. Resulting stories in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and countless other online publications reported the newly discovered link between the environment and autism.

Experts predict that the data will result in a seismic shift in perception of the disability, which now affects one in every 100 children—or one in every 70 boys. Autism is America’s fastest growing disability—increasing nearly 400% over the last 20 years—and now affects an estimated 1.5 million children in the United States alone.

All women, please note: taking prenatal vitamins at the time of conception decreased the risk of autism in children by almost half, Environmental Health News reported!

To find out more, read thestory at HealthyChild.org.

Do you have an autistic child or know someone who does? What do you think causes autism?

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam @writewrds July 19, 2011 at 9:13 PM

I would caution that this information is not conclusive.
Autism research is ongoing around the world. This story refers to a study of 192 sets of twins, according to your post. One study – and not a very big one. For a number of years now, research has indicated environmental factors may be part of the autism puzzle. See the Brick Township Report here
Again, I caution you not to accept one study as truth or fact. It has also long been believed that environmental factors may be linked to MS and a host of other autoimmune diseases.
Autism is a complex disorder that is still not well understood. Any progress is good, but blanket pronouncements with percentages should be questioned.

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Dagmar July 20, 2011 at 4:47 AM

I didn’t announce that the environment is definitely the cause, I’m just reporting the new news. I’m aware that this is just one study and that there will be others, and I think my readers are as well.

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Pam @writewrds July 20, 2011 at 10:50 PM

You’re right. Thanks very much for sharing the information. The more we know and understand, the better. The information about prenatal vitamins is particularly important.

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Jennifer July 13, 2011 at 4:50 PM

I do not have a son or a child with autism, but like you, I was scared to death that my son might ‘get it’! I delayed his MMR vaccination up until this year (he’s now 3) and prayed the entire time (and still am!) that he won’t develop the disease. As your average mom, I certainly take the care of my child seriously, but I’ll admit, it is pretty freaky to know that even if I am strict in everything I do, I cannot control the environment at large. I hope this study can bring more of the causes into light so that no more children have to succumb to this terrible disease.

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