Scientists have shown that a rare chromosomal aberration is common to 10% of children with autism, a finding that raises hope that parents and children may be screened early for autism risk.
But it still leaves many unknowns about a befuddling disease that has been on the rise in recent years. It is estimated that one in 150 children has an autism spectrum disorder, ranging from mild anti-social behaviors to severe developmental difficulties.
Based on extrapolations from the research, the genetic mutation is present in approximately 10,000 or the 1 million children affected by autism, according to USA Today.
The cause of autism has been elusive, though a strong genetic component has long been assumed, given that th second and third children born to the same parents are more likely to have autism if the first does. As many as 90% of autism cases are believed to be caused by genes, but that doesn't explain the apparently sudden rise in diagnosed cases.
The link between autism and vaccinations has been as thoroughly debunked as it is likely to be, though some parents still believe a mercury-based preservative is to blame. Other environmental contaminants are also still suspects, given that a variety of man-made chemicals can alter DNA. As Newsday noted, the genetic mutation could occur spontaneously.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.