What Causes Autism?
What Causes Autism?
The amount of research being done in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has grown exponentially in recent years, leading to rapidly changing data and statistics. As a result, our understanding of autism is constantly evolving. This makes it difficult for professionals and families to keep up. However, the ever-increasing pace of new developments offers us all hope. There is hope for better understanding of ASD by professionals and for more effective treatments. And there is always hope for a “cure” or at least a plan for the prevention of autism in the generations to come. The most recent statistics speak to the urgency in solving the autism “puzzle.” There have been dramatic rises in autism since at least the late 1980s. Based on the latest available data, which are from the year 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has ASD, with the biggest increase in cases being among the higher-functioning patients, African Americans, and Hispanics. However, based on the data from the year 2000, the prevalence was 1 in 150. This is certainly a frightening jump in prevalence over a 10-year period. Some postulate that this is simply due to better diagnosis, although many studies do not support this. In a previous year, when the data showed that 1 in 88 children had ASD, the CDC noted that ASD was more prevalent than the childhood diseases of AIDS, cancer, and diabetes combined. Typically childhood cancer and diabetes have gotten more attention than autism, at least until recently. But this statistic helps to put the number of children and families affected by autism into perspective (1). A surprising government survey conducted in 2014 suggests that 1 in 45 U.S. children ages 3 to 17 have been diagnosed with ASD. This is quite a bit higher than the CDC’s 1-in-68 figure, but because the new data came from a parent survey, the 1-in-45 figure has not replaced the CDC’s number.
Keywords: Apgar scores, Down syndrome, Rett's disorder, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Wakefield, Andrew, bipolar disorder, cerebral palsy, environmental response genes, heritability, autism, neurofibromatosis
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