The Etiology Of Autism

1357 Words6 Pages
The etiology of autism is unknown, although perinatal and neonatal exposures have been the focus of recent epidemiologic research. [7] Exposure to certain medications such as perinatal medications, anti-epileptic drugs, supplements, and SSRIs have been studied as well as drug exposure to cocaine, and smoking. Artificial insemination and fertility medications, meconium aspiration syndrome and birth weight have also all been subjects of focus and the respective association with pregnancy and neurodevelopmental complications such as autism. Several studies have suggested the association between perinatal factors and the onset of Autism. A recent case control study done in New South Wales, Australia focused on determining risk factors for autism. Four factors were determined to be risk factors for autism: being male, premature birth, maternal age greater than 35 years, and mothers born outside of Australia.[8] A separate study from Western Australia concluded that autistic children generally had parents who were older, had greater frequencies of threatened abortions, epidural anesthesia, labor induction, and labor duration of less than 1 hour. These children were more often born first, had a low Apgar score, and tended to have more complications. [9] Similar studies using a Swedish medical birth registry observed different factors that affected autism spectrum disorders. The researchers found that prematurity, low Apgar scores, growth restriction, or macrosomia, and if the mother was from sub-Saharan Africa or East Asia had a positive correlation with autism spectrum disorders. [10] Information obtained from the Finnish prenatal study of autism and autism spectrum disorders correlated advanced paternal age with an increased risk of A... ... middle of paper ... ... showed a two fold increase in risk of developmental malformations and significantly reduced intelligence.[37] Studies exposing pregnant rats and mice to valproate demonstrated increased autistic like behaviors in the offspring. This behavior included social behavior deficits, increased repetitive behaviors, and deficits in communication. The animal studies performed by Roullet have been used as a model to ameliorate and improve upon studies that focus on the association between the risk of autism and the maternal need for anticonvulsants.[5] The current recommendation of health care professionals is to avoid anticonvulsant drug use such as valproate during pregnancy. It is important, however, to assess the intrinsic iatrogenic risk of birth defects or perinatal complications and the general safety for the expectant mother before discontinuing anticonvulsants.[38]
Open Document