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Causes of Autism

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Autism is a developmental and behavioral disability that affects people in a variety of ways. Although the symptoms will vary between individuals there is enough similarity in the way that children and adults manifest the syndrome that a main diagnosis can be given. In all children and adults there will be symptoms evident in language development, behavior and social skills.

At the present time there has been no single causative agent or reason for the development of these signs and symptoms in children. There are however, many different theories. And because the syndrome is so complex there exists a real possibility that there are multiple causes or triggers that combined result in the symptoms commonly diagnosed as autism.

All of the theories discussed here don’t have concrete evidence to back them up – which is why they continue to be theories and not causative agents. One such theory, that has been communicated through parent groups and support groups, and backed up by many case studies, is the link between the measles immunization and autism. Case studies have shown that there is a population of children who react poorly to the preservatives in which the immunizations are dissolved.

The number of children who have developed autism which can be linked back to their immunization is small in comparison to the number of children who are diagnosed. But the theory continues to be investigated and researched. Unfortunately it is the drug companies who often pay for the research studies and who also have the most to lose by any link between immunizations and autism.

There has been a likely genetic link found to autism only because it appears that those families who have members with autism are more likely to have children with autism themselves than the general population. However, to this point there has been no autistic gene found that gives a positive link. Because families are likely to be exposed to the same environmental stimuli, toxins and foods the link could also be found outside the genetic pool.

Through imaging studies it’s been found that children with autism have brains that are slightly larger than the normal range for the general population. The theory that people with autism have brains that are wired just a bit differently is currently under investigation a the University of Pittsburgh.

Researchers believe that there has been some link to problems in the immune system of an individual. The National Institute of Health states that the evidence is not yet strong enough to show a causal relationship. This immune problem would however answer the genetic link, because the genetic makeup of an individual will affect the immune system, and the potential link to measles immunization, because the inability of that baby’s body to effectively deal with an allergy to the immunization could result in neurological deficits.

In several studies there has been some evidence that allergies to certain foods could contribute to these symptoms such as gluten (wheat) and casein (dairy). Another theory about the cause of autism surrounds one treatment modality that has been used for years – mega doses of vitamins. Although malnutrition is likely not the culprit it may be that the body is unable to metabolize the vitamin group being used for treatment.

The truth is that, to date, there has been no causative agent identified. Researchers, doctors and parents continue to support the investigations and studies needed to find a cause because by finding the cause the cure, or a definitive treatment protocol, won’t be far behind.

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