Although it has been found that there are several factors that can cause it, according to a new large study conducted in five countries, genetic causes represent approximately 80% of a child’s risk of developing autism.
For years, the possible reasons that cause the appearance of this disorder in infants and children have been discussed, and vaccines have even been falsely accused as responsible ( something that has already been denied several times ). It was thought that this disorder could be due to genetic and/or environmental factors, but it was not clear how much each one really influenced them.
Now, this new study, which was conducted by analyzing more than two million people in five countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Israel, and Australia), found that 80% of a person’s risk of developing autism comes from genetic factors. hereditary and not of “environmental” influences, which means more than changes in the DNA of a gene.
Published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, the study used models to analyze the information of more than two million inhabitants of the five countries mentioned, within which more than 22,000 had been diagnosed with autism.
Reviewing the results among members of the same family and comparing them with external factors such as shared environments and their specific genetic connections, it was concluded that inherited genes represented about 80% of the risk of autism in children with this disorder.
According to the researchers, in all the samples they analyzed, they found that genetic factors were the most important thing, something that had already been discovered in previous studies, but that research of this magnitude had never been conducted, therefore, this study ends up confirming it.
Now that it is known with certainty that genetic causes are the most important factor, the following is to try to determine which specific genes contribute and in what specific way they do it:
” There is still a lot of work to do, ” says Sven Sandin, one of the authors of the study for HuffPost. “We still don’t know what specific genes contribute to the risk. In addition, there are numerous potential environmental factors that could be related to ASD either directly or acting together with the genes. So far, we have only reviewed the surface .”
Also, it is important to consider the other 20% that is still unknown, since this could be the “modifiable” part that would define if a child will develop autism and could help avoid it, even though the risk is present in the genes of the parents.
At the moment, researchers are analyzing various studies that are reviewing the possible role of other possible causes, from parents’ feeding to infections during pregnancy. At the moment, there is nothing that can determine that avoiding them decreases the risk of a child presenting autism.
The researchers also comment that the media have focused disproportionately on these environmental factors, precisely because they are “modifiable”, such as vaccines, which due to the false relationship that once occurred between them and autism, now they have returned diseases that were already controlled, such as measles.
Now, the results of this study do not indicate that if there are cases of autism in the family, your child will necessarily have it, but it serves to make parents aware of family history and can be more aware of the first symptoms of autism, as Research has shown that the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the physical, emotional and communicative abilities of children can be improved.