Autism

(Autism Spectrum Disorders; Pervasive Developmental Disorders)

Definition

Autism is a spectrum of complex brain disorders. The disorders result in social, behavioral, and communication problems. Other conditions that are part of this spectrum include Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder.

Causes

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. This means that problems in brain development cause autism. Scientists are searching for answers about what causes these development problems. Studies suggest:
  • Autism seems to run in some families. Several genes may be involved.
  • Problems during pregnancy or delivery may interfere with normal brain development.
  • Something in the environment that a child is exposed to may be a factor.

Risk Factors

Autism is more common in boys. Other factors that increase the chance of autism include:
  • Family history—siblings of a child with autism are at higher risk
  • Having parents who are older
  • Problems during pregnancy or delivery
  • Mother with rubella during pregnancy
  • Epilepsy—especially when diagnosed under age 2 years
  • A number of other conditions are related to autism, although the relationship between them is not clear:
The Conditions Above Primarily Affect the Central Nervous System
Central Nervous System
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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