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Genetics Affects on Autism

Updated on February 8, 2020
abbykorinnelee profile image

Bachelors Degree in Organizational Behavioral Psychology with a background in Autism, Mental Health, Business Psychology

Mutations Causes in Autism

The Los Angeles Times released an article that I read in the June 9, 2011 edition of a local Wisconsin paper. "MANY MUTATIONS CAUSE AUTISM, RESEARCHERS SAY" written by Shari Roan of the L.A. Times.

This article depicts the ideas that Autism is not caused by just one or two genetic defects as previously believed. Many mutations, hundreds of different mutations actually, are said to spontaneously arise. This is according to researchers that examined the genetic "underpinnings" of Autistic disorder of over one thousand families. The findings were published in the journal Neuron.

Findings, according to the Los Angeles times newspaper article, are reported in three studies published in this journal. It states that autism disorders are genetically very complex (which we all have come to understand ) and involves "many potential changes that may produce different forms of autism". It further explains that the infected genes are part of a large network that is involved in controlling the development of synapses. Synapses are described as the "critical junctions between nerve cells that allow them to communicate". This is in one of the three studies that were published.

Its believed that even though there is no value immediately of this research to patients and families that it will help in the development of treatments. Quoted from the article is a statement made by Matthew W. State who is an associate professor of psychiatry and genetics at Yale University; who also was lead investigator of one of the reports (according to the Times):

For the first time we're getting a snse of how many areas of the genome are likely to contribute to autism...we know there are multiple, different ways to get autism"

In many aspects of my own research I have found that the government and affiliated agencies are very adamant about the cause of autism to be linked to genetics and NOT environmental causes such as the vaccine issue. However, in this article, they state that only 25 percent of autism spectrum disorder are linked to gene inherited mutations; which would pass from parent to child (as is described in the Times article in greater detail.)

As many of the public has questioned in the Autism community regarding genes versus environmental factors; the same question is raised by researchers as to the cause of the disorder in families that don't have the history of autism. CDC statements were released a time ago stating there is an "underlying mitochondrial defect" for example. But when discussing genetics; in a family with absolutely no history of Autism Spectrum Disorders, the question is valid to what link if any genetically Autism has.

Environmental Factors

Dr. Crawford's Developmental Neuroscience Lab
Dr. Crawford's Developmental Neuroscience Lab | Source

Genetic Research on Autism Advances

new research finds a common ground as the various genes involved in autism appear to influence special processes in the brain.
new research finds a common ground as the various genes involved in autism appear to influence special processes in the brain. | Source

Researchers Tackle Question of Autism in Families with No History of Disorder

In the Times article it states that researchers did look into the question of a family with no history of autism, having someone develop autism. This is what happened to my family. We have no known history of Autism. My son regressed into Autism. Is there a genetic component? Well, two independent research groupls used DNA data that was collected by the SIMONS FOUNDATION AUTISM RESEARCH INITIATIVE from more than one thousand families. It further stated that the one thousand families had at least two children in which a single child had the disorder but the parents and the siblings didn't. The teams were led by Michael Wigler who is a genetics researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Lab in Cold Spring Harbor NY and Yale University. The article further explains that they then compared the DNA of those with autism to the siblings that were not affected.

What the article claims the research found was that autism was assosicated with "rare duplications and deletions of stretches of DNA that appear to have arisen spontaneously." Further they included the statistic of 8% was what occured in this explanation compared to only 2% in affected siblings. So, conclusion of this study according to the Times, was that (even though its not proven) its believed many of these changing - removal and duplication- of certain genes which are seen in the affected DNA areas are the cause of the autism in these children.

So wouldn't that raise the question of what would be the reason or cause of the mutations? If not genetically passed from parent to child?

Genes and Autism

What causes the Mutations?

In many diseases you see an inheritance pattern that you just don't see with autism.-Michael Ronemus (CoAuthor of the Cold Spring Harbor team and research investigator)

As much as 300 of these said mutations are said to exist even though not all are identified as of yet.

Irva Hertz-Picciotto, an autism researcher who is also a professor of public health science at the University of California, Davis and not involved in the studies is raised, according to the times, about the cause of these mutations.

It addresses the belief that autism's increased diagnosis rates and linked to better diagnostic criteria and identification of the disorder earlier and more effeciently is being questioned by researches says the Times. It falls into my own belief of questioning envioronmental reason or exposures that may contribute to autism. Iva Hertz-Picciotto is quoted in the Times article:

The obvious conclusion one has to reach is that something enironmental may well be the cause of these spontaneous changes in DNA

© 2011 Abigayle Korinne


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