Autism is predominantly genetic in origin, but a growing list of prenatal exposures for mother and baby may sway the odds.
From parental age to infection during pregnancy, environmental elements can influence autism risk.
Triggering an immune defense in newborn male mice missing a copy of TSC2, a gene linked to autism, impairs the mice’s social memory.
Chronic exposure to inflammation in the womb alters autism gene expression and disrupts social behavior in male mice, but not females.
Rats exposed prenatally to a cocktail of ‘autoimmune’ molecules have altered levels of two types of compounds needed for brain development.
A specially made ‘decoy’ protein prevents an immune molecule from crossing the placenta; the strategy may prevent the brain changes that lead to autism.
Autism is more heritable than anorexia, alcohol dependence, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to an analysis of data from nearly 4.5 million people.
Traits linked to autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to co-occur even in adulthood.
Watch the complete replay of Janine LaSalle discussing gene-environment interactions and autism.