De novo mutations
The research team studied what are called “de novo” mutations, which are essentially “new” mutations, or mutations that occur after a child has already been conceived. In recent years, over 60 different genetic mutations have been linked to the presence of autism in children, and that list includes these “de novo” mutations. The team noted that these mutations can occur in a parent’s sperm or egg cell prior to fertilization, or they can occur in an embryonic cell after fertilization. The mutations that occur after fertilization are called post-zygotic mutations, or PZMs.