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Environmental vs genetic factors in austism


Parental exposure to solvents at work may be linked to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). According to a new study, those types of exposures could play a role, but more research is needed.

Experts from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicated that exposures to lacquer, varnish and xylene occurred more frequently in the parents of children with ASD when compared to unaffected children. Those parents were also more likely to report exposures to asphalt and solvents.

ASD is a group of developmental disorders including full syndrome autism, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive development disorder. No one is sure what the origins of the disorder are. It is very generally characterized by a number of brain abnormalities. These could be caused by genetic factors but could also be caused by environmental factors. Other studies have linked solvent exposure to poor pregnancy outcomes and other neurodevelopmental conditions in children.

The researchers used data from the Childhood Autism Risk from Genetics and the Environment (CHARGE) study at the UC Davis MIND Institute. They evaluated parents’ exposure to chemicals at may be related to incidences of autism in their children.

“Overall these results add to the mounting evidence that individual exposures may be important in the development of ASD. However, these results are preliminary and are not conclusive. Additional research is required to confirm and extend these initial findings.

This study is “a first pass screen from which results can be sued to target future research directions and should therefore not be taken as conclusive.” They intend to use larger samples and investigate interactions between workplace exposures and genetic factors.

Source: Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, MedicalNewsToday

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