ScienceDaily (2011-07-04) is running a report on the latest autism research to do with genetics and the environment. It's the nature vs nurture debate in effect. The evidence presented in this study leans towards the nurture side of the debate, at least for the twins studied in this work. After evaluating twin pairs in which at least one child has autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), researchers suggest that the shared environment may play a more substantial role in development of the condition than shared genes do, according to this new study. You can read a fuller account of the research here
There's a lot more research coming out at the moment, and much of it concentrates on the 'nature' side of the debate, i.e. Genetics. However, the relationship between genetics and the environment is a much more complicated and even transactional one than might be apparent at first glance, and this can make linking cause and effect far from easy.
Over on our facebook pagetheres a link to other research, including some on a possible link between the use of anti-depressant drugs during pregnancy and an increased risk of autism. Environmental factors (drugs) but still perhaps linked to genetics ( depression has been shown to have a causal link to genes in some people) so again, no clear cut answers.
Whilst all of this research is very interesting, a deep breath and a pause are required before jumping over to one side of the fence or t'other. And whilst it's often comforting to feel that there is a definitive cause of autism, (especially as a parent of an autistic child) there's much re work to be done before we can be sure of taking any of these research studies as the final proof...certainly, much careful though and reflection is necessary, as well as much more work.
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