Pregnancy

Does Autism Begin Before or After Birth?

Different environmental factors could have some effect

It has also been found that approximately 15 percent of those with autism possess a specific genetic cause. Of course, it remains that far more cases do not offer any specific source of information as to how it originated. Autism Speaks explains, "most cases involve a complex and variable combination of genetic risk and environmental factors that influence early brain development."

They go on to explain, "in the presence of a genetic predisposition to autism, a number of nongenetic, or environmental, influence further increase a child's risk. The clearest evidence of these environmental risk factors involves events before and during birth. They include advanced parental age at time of conception (both mom and dad), maternal illness during pregnancy, extreme prematurity and very low birth weight and certain difficulties during birth, particularly those involving periods of oxygen deprivation to the baby's brain. Mothers exposed to high levels of pesticides and air pollution may also be at higher risk of having a child with ASD. It is important to keep in mind that these factors, by themselves, do not cause autism. Rather, in combination with genetic risk factors, they appear to modestly increase risk."

By being aware of the development of autism occurring after birth, researchers will be better able to look into environmental factors that may heighten risk. As such, in the future, people will be able to avoid these risks. Should these be found, it is also possible that certain treatments may become available to protect and then treat a developing of autism.