Autism Onset: Genetics, Environment Or Both?

To date, there is no clear reason as to why 1 in 68 children develop autism spectrum disorder, a condition that has significantly increased over the past two decades. What we do know is that those with ASD typically have problems with social, emotional and communication skills, which makes it hard to get through daily activity. The debilitating disorder can be diagnosed at a very early age, anywhere between 6 months old to 2 years old, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on average, children were not diagnosed until after the age of 4.

Unfortunately, most research regarding the onset of neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders like autism have historically focused on the presumption of genetic causes and less emphasis on environmental factors. However, heritability factors cannot adequately explain every single reported case of autism nor can it account for the reason as to why there has been a dramatic increase of the disorder over the past few decades.  In fact, according to a recent publication from funded CMSRI researchers, there is now sufficient evidence from both human and animal studies that display cumulative exposure from environmental factors that make it not as benign as previously assumed.

Evidence has emerged that indicates the onset of autism may in part result from early-life immune insults induced by environmental xenobiotics. A common xenobiotic that is immuno-stimulation and has neurotoxic properties is aluminum, which is routinely exposed to infants under 2 years old in the form of an aluminum vaccine adjuvant. The aluminum adjuvant is said to excite the immune system, however, it has the potential to induce adverse numerological and immunological effects that shows important clues to its putative role in autism.

Since infants are at the greatest risk of experiencing an adverse reaction following a vaccination, the possibility that the immune system is overstimulated may be a major role in the onset of neurobehavioral disorders. Also, autism spectrum disorder falls under the same umbrella of proposed etiologies of well-known neurological disorders that are associated with aging. These include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and Lou Gehrig’s disease – all of which are presumed to arise from genetic mutations. But, that widespread theory is incorrect because the large majority of these diseases, that are not familial, do not possess obvious genetic mutations with the onset or progression of the disease. This makes the disorders fall into the category as sporadic and the rise in both the prevalence and incident of these disorders, including autism, in a short time span rules out a genetic origin.

When environmental factors are taken into consideration for the onset of neurological disorders, it opens up the doors to possibility. It allows researchers to look at different causal issues, like aluminum, and how it interacts with the central nervous system, in which, has the potential to cause dysfunctional immune functions, various degrees of social and verbal impairments and other loss of skills that disrupt everyday life.

The Dwoskin Family Foundation wants to raise awareness of vaccine safety and let others know of some of the harmful ingredients that are put in them so they can help improve the lives of those who have suffered from adverse reactions and figure out ways to prevent them from happening.