Environment might trump genetics is the finding in vague autism study
My frustration level runs high when it comes to new studies about the causes of autism. Researchers are quick to publish but often with findings that are sparse and less than helpful. The latest is a study in the Archives of General Psychiatry that asserts that environment might play as great a role in the roots of autism as does genetics. There are lots of studies that note a variety of issues might be contributing factors in autism: age of the mother, weight of the baby, infections, etc. None of those have been proven, of course. And in the latest study — conducted by Dr. Joachim Hallmayer and his team at Stanford University School of Medicine — it is reasonable to ask what types of environmental influences are at play. The study of identical and fraternal twins doesn’t say. Yet the study attributes a proportional role of environmental influences to genetic ones: 55% to 40%. More autism research, and money to fund that research, is needed. But more caution is also needed among those researchers trying to get at the roots of the developmental disorder. More than 1 in 100 children are thought to have autism. Let’s fund studies that are helpful to the millions of parents and parents-to-be who are searching for answers.