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Genetic research reveals pieces of autism puzzle
April 5th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Genetic research reveals pieces of autism puzzle

As the number of children with autism has increased over the past couple of decades, so have efforts to find causes behind this neurodevelopmental disorder. Research published Wednesday provides new clues about genetic glitches that may contribute to the development of autism among children.

Ten years ago, little was known about the role genetics plays in autism. But improved technology has allowed scientists to delve deeply into DNA to search for answers.

"Ten years ago [it was like] we were looking through binoculars, then we were looking at autism through a microscope, and now it's like looking at it in high definition," says Andy Shih, vice president of scientific affairs for the advocacy group Autism Speaks, who was not involved in the research.

Since the first human genome was sequenced in the early 2000s, researchers have had the opportunity to search for genes that cause the disorder, which affects an estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States.

Researchers were originally searching for a single gene that would cause the disorder, but they now believe it's much more likely that there are multiple genetic mutations that put a child at risk. By studying specific areas of the DNA of families that have a child with autism, scientists have identified approximately 1,000 genes that may be involved.

A person's whole genome consists of about 3 billion nucleotides, or “letters,” of DNA. But only 1.5% of it - a portion called the "exome" - produces proteins. The exome also harbors 85% of disease-causing mutations, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Three studies published in the journal Nature this week analyzed the exomes of parents and children with autism and found spontaneous genetic mutations in the exome play a significant role in raising a child's risk of developing autism.

One study looked at 238 families with one child with autism and one child without autism.

Life with autism: In their own words

"We found ... several sequence changes [mutations] in the base pairs of DNA that are not seen in a parent," says study co-author Dr. Daniel Geschwind, professor of neurology and psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine. "These mutations are not inherited, but either occur in the mother's egg or father's sperm (before conception) or in the child itself (after conception)."

Geschwind says this new research suggests a child with these mutations "has a much higher chance" of developing a disorder like autism. This research team, led by Dr. Matthew State of Yale University, found at least 14% of those with autism had multiple genetic mutations, which is five times the normal rate, according to the NIH.

Another research team headed by Evan Eichler, a professor of genome studies at the University of Washington, found 39% of spontaneous mutations were likely to increase the risk of autism because they interfere with biological developments that are important for communication in the brain.

Eichler's research also  found these spontaneous mutations were "overwhelmingly paternal in origin," suggesting the origin of these mutations are in a father's sperm.  This supports previous research that suggested there's an increased risk of a child developing autism if the father is older.

The third study in Nature, led by Mark Daly, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, found many mutations seen in children with autism are not necessarily connected to the disorder. His research found that the mutations that are linked to autism are spread over many genes, and so may not be enough to cause the disorder.

In addition to these three studies, an independent study published in Science Translational Medicine, found a non-protein-producing gene can also contribute to the risk of autism.

"All four of these studies get us closer to understanding the biology of autism," says Daniel Campbell, lead author of the fourth study, and assistant professor of psychiatry and the behavioral sciences at the University of Southern California.

Looking at this research collectively further supports the notion that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, and that the disruptions in development that lead to autism are laid down very early in brain formation, says Dr. Bryan King, director of the Seattle Children's Autism Center.

"This [research] is yet another example of how we don't have any single gene that can be connected in a straight line to autism," says King, who wasn't involved in the research.

"There's no one gene that causes autism," says James Sutcliffe, one of Daly's co-authors and an associate professor of molecular physiology, biophysics and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University. "But what these studies do show is that several genetic mutations increase the risk of getting autism and different mutations may affect people in a different way."

Much more research is needed, but ultimately identifying more genetic mutations could pinpoint targets for researchers to focus on to find ways to counteract the developmental disabilities they can cause. Or maybe, in the future, this research could lead to diagnostic tests that could identify children who are at risk for autism so they can get the earliest possible interventions.


soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Sy2502

    It makes sense that the father's genes are more responsible. Autism is more prevalent in males than in females, and the father is the one that gives the Y chromosome. It certainly makes an interesting change from the very early theories that autism was caused by emotionally distant mothers.

    April 5, 2012 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • KAS

      When you consider those early theories were made by men, it's not surprising. Everything was blamed on the woman before science shed its light and revealed what was really happening.

      The next great leap will be to do the same thing with those who are gay/lesbian/transgender/whatever.

      It's all genetically related. To say otherwise is ridiculous and shows one bias based on outdated and simplistic mythological precepts.

      April 5, 2012 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • TexDoc

      Sy2502 and KAS, you're wrong. Actually the fact that autism is higher in male children means the X chromosome is more likely to be the 'carrier.' When females have two X's, they are 50% less likely to have two bad genes. Where men don't have the second X chromosome as back up. An example is baldness, color blindness and hemophilia. Carried on the X gene, so rarely shows up in females.

      April 5, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse |
    • Meeeh

      "the father is the one that gives the Y chromosome"

      Actually, the father contributes either a Y or an X. If you're female, one of your X chromosomes are your father's.

      April 5, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • geneticist

      Sy2502 and KAS are wrong. TexDoc and Meeeh are right.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse |
    • questionauthority

      OMG!! what a limited view. think estrogen and testosterone and how what type of protective effects they have, or don't have, on the body.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
  2. TexDoc

    This is consistent with birth data. First time mothers over 35 years of age were 1 in 100 in 1970. Last year they were 1 in 12. Waiting means more defects in the genes and their is an increased risk of defects, including autism. This doesn't mean only older women have austic kids, but older mothers and fathers are more likely.

    April 5, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • geneticist

      yep. and it seems this obvious correlation is being swept under the rug. not politically correct?

      April 5, 2012 at 15:12 | Report abuse |
    • TexDoc

      Geneticist: I agree, I think pointing out that more mothers are waiting to have children to after 35, and this might be related to increased rates of autism is politcially incorrect.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • Poltically correct = bogus?

      I think you need a new word. That one is played out.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:28 | Report abuse |
    • genya

      If the mutations associated with autism seem more common with advanced paternal age then why would autism be 4x more common among males than females? The father carries an X and a Y chromosome: if the egg is fertilized with an X sperm, the zygote will be female; a Y sperm will result in a male. Fragile X syndrome results in autism in a small number of instances but that defective X can be inherited from either the father or the mother. Last time I looked, the Y chromosome carries very few genes. Its principle purpose is the confer maleness, so a defective Y chromosome would not lead to autism. There must be some genetic explanation for the fact that the large majority of autistic people are male.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:23 | Report abuse |
    • CWST

      While there may or may not be a link between a link between age and having autistic children, it seems likely, as more neurodevelopmental issues are common in children of older individuals. If you take a basic biology course or read a biology textbook it will thoroughly explain the relationship to you, with a solid body of science and research supporting it. As for the number of genes, I tend to believe the multiple gene theory. While there are more male children with autism, there are still female cases, albeit lower. Could there be a possibility that there may be genes on the Y chromosome that greatly increase the risk of autism, triggered by other genes on the X? Hope they have more studies looking into it.

      April 5, 2012 at 22:49 | Report abuse |
  3. SSimpson

    It's the Simmons Gene –

    April 5, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeffinIL

      I thought that one was for unusually long tongues.

      April 5, 2012 at 18:53 | Report abuse |
  4. joeResearcher

    Unfortunately, the large number of genes being implicated likely means they are just following noise (little better than a random selection). I am not an Autism expert, but as an outsider looking in it would appear the until a critical reevaluation of what Autism means and is, finding genetic links will always yield noise.

    April 5, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Oh how lovely

    So caz, you think being gay is from a genetic mutation? I am interested to know more. I'm not gay, but definately am somewhat on the fruity side if you will. If I wasn't married I could see myself being gay I guess. To me personally it just seems like the line between choice of male or female is just more blury. Basically if I wasn't married I could see myself going either way if the person was cool. If that makes any sense. Like I wouldn't focus so much on if someone was a male or female. Which when I was younger I would've never considered being with a woman. If that makes me partially gay, I have no idea. But it's interesting hearing other's theories.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M.E.

      Congratulations, you're bisexual.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      That's bisexual and means you get the best of both worlds.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerm

      You realize you're arguing against every gay individual who says that being gay is not a choice right? If that isn't your intention, I would probably rephrase that next time. Just sayin.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:31 | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    They seem pretty dead-set on genetics being the "cause" of autism, even after their research appears to not have yielded any logical results. "Thousands of genes" coming together to cause autism, should look like "Not a common thread of a gene that can be connected as a root cause" to anyone looking at the data.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • A scientist

      That's nonsense. There are diseases that very clearly are genetic for which multiple genes have been implicated. A simple example is cancer. Numerous mutations have been identified in various genes that increase the risk of cancer. The same is true with Alzheimer's, where many different mutations have been linked to genetic forms of the disease.

      The reason is simple. Our bodies are very complex, so often many gene contribute to a given process. In the case of cancer, there are literally hundreds of genes who play a role in suppressing cancer, so mutations in any of these will increase risk. In the case of autism, a huge number of genes are involved in the proper development of the brain, so mutations in any of these can have significant effects. (It should be noted that one implication of this finding is that it is possible that since different cases of autism may have different causes, we might be able to improve outcome by tailoring treatments to the specific causes in a given individual.)

      April 5, 2012 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      It makes sense if you are a biologist.

      Most kids with Autism are, physiologically, almost perfectly normal. Two eyes, two ears, one heart, and so on. Even most of their nervous functions are normal - pain, joy, hunger, and so on. The problem seems to be relatively minor, in a broad physiological sense.

      So if you think about the number of connections that have to be made correctly to form a "normal" human brain, and the vast number of genes that have to all function correctly to make those connections, and the fact that many varieties of deviations in those connections can all be called Autism - finding a thousand genes is neither surprising nor contradictory.

      I do think that clearer definitions of Autism sub-categories will be helpful in the future, but research is necessary to define the changes that characterize these sub-categories.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • ThaGerm

      I was going to set you straight, but it looks like I have been beat to it. Nice answers peoples!

      April 5, 2012 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      I suppose what I was trying to get at with my comment was that if you didn't enter the research with the pre-determined belief that "Autism is CAUSED by genetics", you might look at this data and say "What is happening to these people that they have so many mutating genes?".

      April 6, 2012 at 07:44 | Report abuse |
  7. M.E.

    1 in 88 is laughable. One in every couple hundred makes sense, but the only way you can get 1 in 88 is serious overdiagnosis. Being a nerd or the quirky kid maketh not autism. Love of the esoteric is not a disorder!

    April 5, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TheBear

      Hard to know unless you get a better break down of that 1 in 88 number. Of those, how many have Aspbergers? Or high functioning autism versus low functioning?

      I haven't seen the figure for moderate to severe autism, but from my experience I still believe the incidence is rising very rapidly.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
  8. Darlene Buckingham

    How many of the children diagnosed today have autism or neurological damage from toxic materials? Blame the father and mother rather than the real culprits of many of the autism cases we are seeing on those that manufacture and push to the unsuspecting public. There is something fishy about the spike in autistic cases. For the sake of the children we have to keep asking for answers and solutions.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TexDoc

      There is a lot that has changed in society in the last 30 years. Older moms having children. Cell phones. Internet. WiFi. Microwave ovens. DVD players. 'Organic' farming. There are a lot of probably causes. This article just point a small clue. With time, medical science will identfy more and more risk factors. Take them all with grain of salt till they've been tested, repeat tested, and studied a whole lot more.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      There is no reason that it needs to be an "either-or" situation. It is almost certain that specific mutations make some people predisposed to autism, but also that there are environmental triggers. Both sides are being actively researched.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • DavisMD

      @ TexDoc Actually, the autism rate begain to increase during the mid 90's. There were no cell phones, DVD players, Wi-Fi, or the internet at that time. However, there was a change in the pesticides used in the farming industry nationwide. The autism rate spiked again in early 2004 when the started injecting children with tripple the amount of vaccines. Thank you National Geographic for capturing all these events in a timeline. I'm not sure how much I trust the research of medical science today when that same system pays my doctor benefits everytime he gives someone a new prescription pill. *insert sarcasm here* and I doubt politics plays any role in this. Now Merck-funded scientist pushes HPV vaccine for boys despite the fact tha the vaccine was killing girls. Thanks but no thanks for your gain of salt. I'm sure you're a nice person but I chose intelligence.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • I was waiting for you...

      I think we need to follow the science. Too many have made "obvious" connections between one thing and another. But association is not causation. Tall brothers don't cause tall sisters, but they are associated. So you have to do the research and leave the speculation out. Speculation leads to the red herrings such as blaming innoculations – which are now emphatically disproven since early symptoms of autism are being diagnosed before... BEFORE the age of innoculations.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:34 | Report abuse |
    • somanyidiots

      I really had a hard time not responding but finally the level of ignorance people have about ASD kills me. As a father living the "fun" autism provides. I can say the following.

      -1 in 88, easy to believe based on my own community.
      – Genetics root cause? yes it sets the stage but environmental, 42 sots a kid gets today at birth vs. 6 in the 60's & 70's, genetically modified food, wifi etc. all factor in for certain.
      – silver bullet fix or diagnosis? no way, so many factors and stories of successful treatments which are unique.

      So, take a breath, get a grip and do something productive and stop posting ignorance..

      Darlene, this isn't directed at you but just the entire posting but this one was as far down as I could handle...

      April 5, 2012 at 18:59 | Report abuse |
    • CWST

      Do you and your child a favor, and step out of a life of denial. Too many times parents who have children with diseases or conditions stemming from genetics tell themselves that they're good people – they couldn't have given it to their child. Well, it's a fact that your genetics, both good and bad, get passed down. It's not your fault – you can't control what genes your child will get. Instead of focusing on someone or something to blame, focus on how to help your child.

      April 5, 2012 at 22:10 | Report abuse |
  9. Natalie

    Did we have different genes 50 years ago, 20 years ago? What is that manipulated our genes to have kids with autism, allergies, etc.? I don't believe the age of mothers since my great-grandmother's generation had kids from the day they married through menopause.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • TexDoc

      The genes develop small errors over time, radiation, replication (copies of copies), so as we age there are more spontaneous mutations. Most are handled by the fact we have two of each, except sex chromosomes. X & Y in males so they are the 'weaker' sex and more prone to errors in the code. Waiting to have children increases the risk of all birth defects.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:17 | Report abuse |
    • CWST

      Well, for the past hundred years, we have added millions of new chemicals into our everyday lives (statistically, much more likely than vaccines as well), most of which we barely notice nor give any consideration. Over time, these could produce the effects.

      April 5, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse |
  10. Burbank

    Of course it certainly doesn't help if parents park the kid in front of an electronic babysitter, aka, the kid's own tv in it's own room, so the parents don't have to be bothered with actually taking care of the kid. Todays's narcissitic parents put themselves first.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nice judgment

      Yea... um no basis... but just an opinion = not helpful.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:35 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      Autistic kids would not do well parked in front of the TV, as they tend to be super-sensitive to noise. Kids who get parked in front of the TV are the normal ones. TV does not cause autism. It may cause other things (laziness, mindlessness), but not illness, mental or physical. In any case, most parents need a break sometimes and TV can be a lifesaver. You try looking after a rambunctious toddler while horribly ill from morning sickness or worse, something they brought home from daycare and are since over. If you have no TV, you're stuck with the kid destroying the house and possibly endangering themselves.

      April 6, 2012 at 01:38 | Report abuse |
  11. Zane

    Wonder how many lawyers, doctors, scientists, writers, musicians and Nobel prize winners have some of these genes. Anyone obsessed with his profession must have at least some, including the Professor [i.e., one who professes] may.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Oh how lovely

    Well yes I suppose that would imply i'm bisexual. But I just find it interesting I guess why some people think it's genetically linked. I wasn't too keen on females before why now? I just wonder if it's chemicals in my brain that changed, or did I always have a propensity towards women. I also find gay men super attractive. Does that make me a gay man trapped inside a woman's body?:) Perhaps just de programming. Anyhoo, I used to work with autistic children. It was a very difficult job. I wonder if it's exposure to some sort of toxin, many of the kids seemed to have severe brain damage. I worked with an autistic savant. That was very interesting. Kid couldn't tie his shoes but knew numbers so well it was amazing! Scary job though many of the kids were very violent.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Oh how lovely

    Geneticist you are completly right. I'm sure the big pharma has nothing to do with autism right. . . . . .

    April 5, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Spence

      The emotionalism surrounding the homeopathic nonsense and booster shots for kids is what is killing and damaging children. Get the emotionalism out and put the science back in.

      April 5, 2012 at 15:46 | Report abuse |
  14. Spence

    And you think Sarah Palin is a twit? That's the dumbest thing anyone walking upright could possibly say about Autism.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Oh how lovely

    I found when working with kids that some of them had the same characteristics but others were completly opposite. I think sometimes it is a matter of genetics and sometimes outside influence. Other times it seems a little of both. I asked many parents at what age their child was symptomatic. Generally it was nine months to a year. I didn't think it was possible for a baby of a year or younger to have much personality to begin with until I became a parent. I would know if my child was born normal and suddenly had an adverse reaction to something.

    April 5, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. livefree88

    I believe Autism has been here all along. It is not so much that the syndrome it is on the rise but the ability to diagnose it with a high precision is improving. Years ago there were people that were quiet, quirky, genius, antisocial. These days they are autistic, savant or aspergers syndrome. Many of these people live fulfilled lives and could really do without the stigma of being labeled "Autistic".

    April 5, 2012 at 15:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Jeremy

    how long beforethe eugenics movement is revived, to kill those us with Autism/Aspergers? Slippery slope you got here...

    April 5, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Oh how lovely

    Wow! I'm suprised they even allowed a comment about vaccines. Yes I personally believe vaccines are part of the problem and so did many of the parents who's kids I worked with. Incredibly sad. I chose not to vaccinate because there was a genetic predisposition for my child. My husbands uncle has an autistic daughter. I wasn't going to take any chances. Especially after reading ingredients of vaccines and finding that some are grown on human diploid tissue. Which is lung tissue of babies. Eye of bat wing of newt, no thank you not in my baby!

    April 5, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Do you even know what diploid means?

      April 5, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      There is NO LINK between vaccines and autism. There was ONE study that showed a link, and the study was discredited (i.e the data was falsified). By failing to vaccinate your kids, you are putting them and anyone they're in contact with at risk of serious illness. If one of your kids DIED from something you failed to have them vaccinated for, would you then get the rest of your kids vaccinated, or would you think it was "worth it" because the remaining children weren't autistic, assuming that if you'd vaccinated, they would be?

      April 6, 2012 at 01:43 | Report abuse |
    • I call BS

      Yeah, great. I am not about to put any stock in the beliefs of some moron who can't even figure out when to use "who's" and when to use "whose". Get a friggin' education.

      April 7, 2012 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
  19. tez07

    It is refreshing to see an article focusing on the science of autism

    April 5, 2012 at 16:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Oh how lovely

    I think it's pesticides, genetic inability to process poisons and toxins. Genetic food mutations gmo etc, vaccines. Not to mention many drugs people take cannot be cleaned out of the water through treatment plants. We are inundated with toxins on so many levels. Chem trails as opposed to con trails. Geo engineering etc. Very scary stuff.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Mom of a Autistic Child

    My son is autistic and I noticed that as the diagnosing criteria was broadened, and the umbrella grew, more and more children were diagnosed as Autistic. I read the medical studies when he was diagnosed and have continued to stay current on this "debate". I have always believed my son was born Autistic and it was not due to vaccinations or external influences. More and more research appears to point to this as fact. Regardless, you will always have those who refuse to see Autism as anything but something that was "done" to their child. I am a parent who loves her Autistic child just the way he is.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Deeee Arrrr

      Sorry about your child, but I appreciate and agree with your view. My nephew had the cord wrapped around his neck at birth and is a highly functioning autistic.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  22. akita

    The father passing on the gene makes sense to me. Both parents were 28 when we had our autistic son, and aspergers daughter. Mother has a child by another father with no disabilities. Father went on to have a child with another woman 29 and has another autistic.
    *Male friend has 4 boys, 3 same mom. all three have some degree of learning disabilites one full autism. 4 child with another woman, PDD – he is only 3 but looks to be autistic also.
    * another Male friend – all children born to parents under 32. Mom has one child no problems different father, 3 with this father all autistic 2 of the boys are twins.

    Just my experience and yes I know this is a limited view, but it does support the science claim.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marie

      Why is no one using birth control if they are not totally committed to eachother? Possibly the males you speak of have some sort of impairment as well, though not of the reproductive variety.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  23. Oh how lovely

    Planned parenthood is a eugenics based operation. Sick sick sick thinking.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I call BS

      You are insane.

      April 7, 2012 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
  24. Eric

    Jenny McCarthy said it's the result of vaccinations, not genes. I'll stick with her 'expert' medical opinions. I'm sure she already researched the DNA evidence in between Playboy photo shoots.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Mom of a Autistic Child

    I wanted to add – I have two other boys and two daughters and my first born is my only Autistic child. Also, he was born when I was 21 and so it does not seem to fit into the "older parents have a higher" chance category. And since it's 2012 I should mention that my husband is the father or all our children 🙂

    April 5, 2012 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Sure it fits into the "higher chance" category... that's why it's called "chance" and not "absolute condition".

      April 5, 2012 at 17:06 | Report abuse |
  26. Raigh Anderson

    Why is there no mention re the parents of autistic children being along the autistic spectrum? If a child is diagnosed with ASD, the entire family should be evaluated. Many parents with Asperger's children/child recognize the behaviors in themselves or a spouse. The researchers are omitting much information by not evaluating all members of the family. ASD are usually highly genetic, therefore are inherited with a predisposition re mutations.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Mom of a Autistic Child

    @Raigh – neither my husband nor I are on the spectrum. Just thought I'd let you know

    April 5, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Oh how lovely

    I never said that it is only from outside factors. I said that I believe there are many different causations. Some of them are genetic I believe. But I also believe some instances are from vaccinations etc. Would I love my daughter any less if she had a disability? Of course not. But I did do a lot of research and it seemed to point a lot at vaccinations etc. No one has to agree with my opinion it is just my opinion. And I know for many it is a very touchy subject. But I also have years of experience working children with a myriad of disorders. I also spoke with all of their parents I got their perspective and I also got many clinical and personal opinions from Dr's. My opinion is my own but it is coming from a very educated place.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Another young mother of an autistic child

    There are plenty of young mothers that have children with down syndrome too. That does not mean age does not increase the risk. They would never say "well I was 21 when I had my down's child so age is not a factor"

    April 5, 2012 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Mom of a Autistic Child

    @Oh how lovely – was in no way suggesting otherwise
    @Another young mother – was just putting it out there to tell our "whole" story

    April 5, 2012 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. oh and....

    The vaccine crowd will never be satisfied. If they show it is in the genes they will just say, well that is because the parents were vaccinated.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Don't forget the scientists are in the pocket of big pharma. So any evidence against their side is automatically invalid, but the one lone paper (now withdrawn) is enough proof for them as a crusade.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Jeramie: What scientists are "in the pocket of big pharma." Pharmaceutical companies only fund a tiny fraction of the research in our country, so this idea that they are influencing research is absurd. I have been a biomedical researcher for more than a decade, and have published dozens of papers, yet have never gotten a dollar for any pharmaceutical company.

      Anyone who thinks that there is a vast conspiracy to hide the truth in biomedical research simply has no idea how research is conducted. There are thousands of academic labs spread around the country, each operating independently. So, to believe that there is a conspiracy to hide the truth would require believing that tens of thousands of people, most of whom have never met each other, have somehow conspired. And why would they do that? Why would all of these people who chose careers in health research, choose to try to sabotage our health? Do you really have that low an opinion of your fellow man?

      April 5, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
    • A scientist

      Sorry Jeramie - I should have read your comment more carefully before I responded. (There needs to be an international sarcasm signal for the internet to help people like me who read these comments too quickly.)

      April 5, 2012 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
  32. danielle

    36+ vaccinations!!!! That's what causes autism. I'd like to know who funded this study, Merck?

    April 5, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CWST

      If vaccines were the key culprit, why are there children who have autism, but never received a vaccine?

      April 5, 2012 at 22:02 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      Vaccinations do not cause autism. Vaccinations were *blamed* for autism based upon doctored data. There was no actual evidence; parents were just looking for something to blame, and lawyers were looking to get rich. The studies have since been discredited. Vaccinations save lives, and people who still insist that vaccines cause autism, if their rhetoric causes anyone to forgo vaccines, are putting children at risk. Stop it: your lies are killing children.

      April 6, 2012 at 00:44 | Report abuse |
  33. Hard Liner

    This just goes to show that Autism is a choice! A horrible horrible choice!

    April 5, 2012 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. jj

    Older parents have more autistic babies than younger. So how about if older women stop getting pregnant and think about the consequences.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hard Liner

      Yeah, we want more teen moms!

      April 5, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  35. Oh how lovely

    Oh no don't get me wrong I wasn't talking to anyone in particular. It just seemed like as soon as vaccinations got brought up many were like oh no no it couldn't be that. When fact is it could be anything really. What science has proven is that they really don't know. In that case I feel that vaccinations should not be excluded as a possible causation. I think for the medical association to rule anything out is unethical. And even my family physician stated. No one Ever said vaccines were safe, the benefit to the many outweighs the harm to the few. It was a very very heavy decision for me not to vaccinate. I did a lot of research and in the end I went with what my heart said. And to me personally it just felt wrong. As parents we make the tough decisions and this was not an easy one.Many of my friends chose to vaccinate their kids it is their decision. None of my friends or myself feel any less or more for people who choose to vaccinate or to not. But as adults we have had many discussions about them.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hard Liner

      Yes, whatever you do, do NOT protect your children from illnesses! Vaccines are the governments way of controlling the population! They dont want us sick! Dont let them keep you from getting sick!

      April 5, 2012 at 16:46 | Report abuse |
  36. Hard Liner

    Why does nobody ever blame all of the additives in our food? Older parents have a higher % chance of having a baby with Autism? Maybe its because they have been ingesting preservatives for a longer period. Nobody ever talks about this because the food lobiests dont want you to think about it. Its "cool" to attack drug corporations, meanwhile the real problems sneeks right on by.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah

      Boy Howdy, you are probably right.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
    • M.

      Nobody blames the additives because we have looked at them, extensively, and found no link. Just like with vaccines. There could be environmental toxins involved, there could be even prescription drugs involved, but we know – pretty much absolutely – that it isn't additives or vaccines.

      Most of the increase is probably due to greater age at which people are having kids these days. Genetic quality of both sperm and egg cells deteriorates with age, and synaptic function and brain development are among the first things to be affected. Data is not perfectly clear on this yet, but that seems to be the trend.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
    • dx2718

      Older parents have more grey hair. Maybe it is grey hair that causes autism.

      April 6, 2012 at 00:45 | Report abuse |
  37. Deee Arrr

    this is such a complex subject, that you can believe what you will, it could possibly be correct. Until we know more, I'm not blaming one thing like vaccines. Heck since it is a spectrum, like adhd, they can't even really diagnose it well.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Hard Liner

      I'm blaming Liberals. It seems to work for Sarah Palin, so its good enough for me too.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse |
  38. Hard Liner

    There are highter numbers of Autistic children in Liberal households.

    April 5, 2012 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah Palin

      Thats right. We GOP mothers leave Autistic babies in the forst as bear bait.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
  39. Avser Bastian

    VIOLENT WORLD PSYCHIATRY-PSYCHOLOGY REVEALED(mindless mkultra crimes performed by police and psychiatrists/psychologists)

    USE OF MKULTRA + HUNGER GAMES TODAY....Use of psychology/psychiatry for mass population or ethnic cleansing as well as crimes to which we witness daily on behalf of Zionism/communism/liberalism.

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xpqc0u_part-80 EXACTLY HOW ETHNIC CLEANSING IS TAKING PLACE AGAINST NON SLAVS(German etc) THROUGHOUT EASTERN EUROPE SINCE WWII + REAL 911 REVEALED !!!

    TRUTH ABOUT RUSSIAN COMMUNIST APPARATCHIK ALIKE GANGSTER AND TRAITOR DAVID DUKE OR 70 YEARS OLD US GOVERNMENT OBAMA(TERRORIST) NEWS

    https://dailymotion.com/video/xpkfh7

    https://dailymotion.com/video/xpmelt

    Related to WHITES ARE NOT WELCOME IN AMERICA ANY LONGER !!! http://www.youtube.com/user/BostjanAvsec OBAMA'S HEALTH CARE RECORDED LIVE IN 2009 !!! EXILING WHITES(US citizens) WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE AND IMPORTING NON WHITES IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FREE !!

    For fast updates use http://www.facebook.com/people/Loki-Nagrind/100001962176474

    REMINDER...MY YOUTUBE ACCOUNT WAS HIJACKED(March 07th, 2012) BY US GOVERNMENT WHILE PRIMARY E-MAIL AS WELL AS BLOGS WERE ALL SHUT DOWN FOR THE SAKE OF CENSORSHIP REGARDING GENOCIDE AGAINST ME PERSONALLY THAT INVOLVED ABDUCTIONS / MK-ULTRA BRAINWASHING / FORCED BRAIN ELECTRODE – CHIP IMPLANTS / HUMAN EXPERIMENTATION / BLACKLISTING / FORCEFUL UNEMPLOYMENT AND ASSASSINATIONS !!! ALL AGAINST WHITE(under "NAZI" lie) CIVILIAN POPULATION TODAY IN 2011/2012 ACROSS THE EUROPE AND NORTHERN AMERICA !!!

    +(plus)

    IF THEY BRAINWASH YOU WITH LIES ON HOW ELECTING OBAMA WOULD HELP TEA PARTY(there is already over one hundred million of so called minorities in US alone while you are everything, but treated as humans), PLEASE ASK YOURSELF WHAT ARE YOUR CHANCES OF SURVIVAL ONCE OBAMA IS AGAIN SELF-ELECTED(see video 77) & SINCE NEW LAW IS TAKING GUNS FROM YOU ALREADY TODAY(stop the violent world of psychiatry or lies – NOW) !!!

    April 5, 2012 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sarah Palin

      I do not support this particular brand of blithering irrationality.

      April 5, 2012 at 16:57 | Report abuse |
  40. Oh how lovely

    I don't undertand how autism could be found before a child has any vaccines. They wanted to give my daughter a vaccine the first day she was born. Is there a way to test in the womb?Also, I did suggest it could be from food, gmo, spraying pesticides etc., it could be anything really. I said to rule anything out is unethical. Vaccines included.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I call BS

      No, dear, it's not "unethical". It's what happens when scientists do research and show that vaccines are not the cause.

      Much as you'd love to pin the blame on "Big Pharma" and the "evil" vaccines, honey, the research has proven you wrong.

      April 7, 2012 at 19:58 | Report abuse |
  41. Oh how lovely

    I also have a friend who is an older woman with three boys. The first two had varying severe degrees of autism. She vaccinated the first two and did not with her third child. They are all from the same dad and the youngest has no signs of the disorder. With her oldest two boys she was able to reverse much of the damage with chelation. It is a process by where heavy metals are pulled from the body.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • M.

      We in neuroscience hear stories like this on the Internet all the time. When we come to check them out, we find out they are untrue.

      In other words, I do not believe you.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:16 | Report abuse |
    • I call BS

      Chelation has been shown to be not only ineffective but dangerous. You are nuts.

      April 8, 2012 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
  42. Me

    The biggest culprit in the case to discover the causes of autism is a lack of glutathione in the individual physiology. Find out how to fix that...or test to determine low levels and you'll find some remedy to the disorder.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Oh how lovely

    When I looked it up when studying vaccines it said diploid tissue is lung tissue. Am I incorrect? Let me know if I am incorrect.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JeramieH

      Almost every cell in your body in diploid, meaning that it contains two copies of DNA (one from each parent). The only cells in your body that aren't diploid are your sperm/eggs, which are monoploid. In other words, "human diploid" can refer to any cell in your body that isn't a sperm or egg.

      April 5, 2012 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
    • themeatwad

      Jeramieh is correct.

      April 5, 2012 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
  44. grandma

    Hi!! i am the proud grandmother of an autistic child. He is loving, smart, outgoing and funny. Right around nine months
    our lovely boy started showing signs of something going wrong. He would not sleep, was unusually quiet, no eye contact
    no pointing etc. My daughter started looking for a pediatrician that would give her answers to all her questions. Finally
    found a pediatric psychiatrist specialized in autism. We started a 4 year old journey of all kinds of therapies. May I add that
    he finally started talking a year ago!! At first my daughter was devastated with the diagnostic; but my son in law; said he
    had almost ALL the sympthoms when he was a child!!! He is a nuclear engineer and 31. My daughter was 25 when she
    got pregnant. I am NOT an expert but; i also think the father is the carrier. I am happy to say that my golden boy is now
    talking non stop, writing his name, knows all the continents, all the planets and his moons, Everything about animals, hervibors, reptiles, everything about the rainforest; and the importance of disposing properly of trash. He could seriously
    teach at a high school!!! ha ha ha We are all very proud of him; and love him just the way he is!!! He still lines up everything............ from toys to food!! ha ha He is perfect to us!! And what makes him different is what makes him one of a kind!! One last thing; our doctor told us that the higher the intelligence was the better prognosis longtime. ALL AUTISTIC KIDS WILL GET BETTER with therapies!!

    April 5, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Oh how lovely

    Tha germ, if you're talking to me, no I did not realize I was speaking for every single gay person in the entire world. I was only asking peoples opinion in my specific case. I was not speaking about or for anyone else. And Jeremiah thank you for teaching me about diploid tissue I really do like learning new things .I suppose I came to think diploid tissue was lung tissue because they use lung tissue as well. It just creeps me out human cells are used to make some vaccines. It just seems so strange and icky.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Dad

    GENES LOAD THE GUN, THE ENVIRONMENT PULLS THE TRIGGER.

    SIMPLE AS THAT.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Oh how lovely

    And for everyone who has a different opinion . That is ok. But I would never belittle or down talk someone for having a different opinion. Some of the most genius concepts and facts have been taught, only to be be disproven in time. And many great scientists have accepted this with grace and integrity. Not allowing personal opinions to get in the way. When you truely seek higher understanding of things you don't point fingers when right or wrong. For the people who have not so nice words here the fact is scientists still do not know what the cause of autism is. It is all personal opinion at this point in the game.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Oh how lovely

    Well I hope all have a lovely day. I'm off to the park to look for little newts. And maybe to get some more shrinky dinks they are so fun!

    April 5, 2012 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. John

    Its what happens when you constantly crap in your own gene pool. DNA scrambling chemicals and pesticide exposures as well as continued breeding when your jacked up genome is apparent. Just my 2 cents.

    April 5, 2012 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CWST

      Good point. Perhaps there's a link between all the chemicals, pesticides, etc. that the parents eat before pregnancy, or what the mother eats during pregnancy that causes the mutation in the embryonic stage when the brain develops? Could be similar to FAS.

      April 5, 2012 at 22:36 | Report abuse |
  50. Patricia Bradshaw

    Has anyone ever thought about the connection between autism and the injection of chemicals our cows and other animals receive Now, they are ready for slaughter in six months instead of two years. There is something wrong with this practice in my opinion. We eat the meat so what does that do to our bodies and minds. The increase in autism and the growth hormone injections in the animals began about the same time. Just think about it. Lets stop the growth hormone injections and see if the kids born with Autism slows down. One of my grandsons is autistic and it breaks my heart for him. What will become of these children as they grow to adulthood...who will care for them after the parents are gone?

    April 5, 2012 at 18:26 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.