The research concerns the confirmation of the influence of factors previously associated with autism, but also a better understanding of the role of factors “suspected” of influencing the autism spectrum, eg the role of the immune system, maternal hormones or taking antidepressants during pregnancy.During the TED lecture, prof. Wendy Chung easily explains “what we know and what we don’t know about autism”, including what we already know about the causes of autism (Polish subtitles are available)
The autism spectrum is genetic.Genes are recognized as a key risk factor. The genetic basis of autism is complex.The first arguments in favor of the genetic basis of autism arise from scientific research conducted in the 1970s on pairs of twins. Autism is more common in both children if they are identical twins (73-95% according to a 2010 study), and much less often if they are fraternal twins (about 30%).
In recent years, researchers have been discovering more and more genes and rare genetic mutations related to autism. Currently, researchers have identified 65 genes that are strongly associated with autism and over 200 that are less associated with autism. The genes associated with the autism spectrum can be passed on in the family. Often, more than one person in the family is on the autism spectrum.
It also happens that relatives have character traits similar to the symptoms of autism, e.g. attachment to routines, poor understanding of social situations (the so-called broad phenotype of autism). Additionally, parents who are not on the autism spectrum may have autism-related genes and pass them on to their children. The likelihood of developing autism in the next child is increased. Research data ranges from 5-6% to 15-30% probability.