Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Most Common Theories of Autism

One of the biggest worries that parents have is the health of their children. When you're a first time expectant mother as myself, you tend to worry much more than mothers who are not expecting their first child. In fact, my brother gave me an example about a mother of three boys. He said, "For the first child, everything was sterilized and sanitized before it went anywhere near the baby. For the second child, if a pacifier fell on the floor, it would be run through water before giving it back to the child. The third child who dropped his pacifier just went with the 5 second rule."

Since the beginning of my pregnancy, one of the biggest fears I've had is my baby's brain development. I've tried to make sure my prenatal vitamins have all organic ingredients and that most medications prescribed to me due to any pain or discomfort, were not taken. I wanted to limit my baby's chances of having a brain defect, or in many cases now, autism.

Autism is one of the biggest fears that parents now have due to the increased number of cases that have developed in the last 20 odd years. According to the 1999 Autism Report provided by the Department of Developmental Services, the diagnostic populations for autism cases increased by 210.43% from 1987 through 1998. Then in 2003, another report by the DDS stated that "From December 1998 to December 2002, the population of persons with autism in California's Developmental Services System nearly doubled."

Autism is an irreversible illness that once acquired cannot be undone. No parent likes to see their children suffer through disorders they cannot do anything about. Therefore, if precautions are necessary to be taken, then why would any parent want to be kept in the dark?

What is Autism?

First of all, what is autism? According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Autism or "Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a range of complex neurodevelopment disorders, characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior."

Theories About What Causes Autism

There are many theories as to what actually causes autism. Two of the main theories have to do with genetics and vaccinations.

Genetic Theory of Autism

Studies have shown that parents who carry the gene for autism or have blood relatives with autism, are at risk of having an autistic child (or children). Continued studies are being made in regards to this subject. For instance, an article by in January 2008, stated that, "Up to 1% of autism cases may be blamed on too much or too little of a particular strand of an estimated 25 genes on chromosome 16, according to a pair of recent papers." According to the article, "One paper, published online Jan. 9 in the New England Journal of Medicine and co-authored by Dr. Daly, found that children with one or three copies of the 16p11.2 genetic segment, rather than the normal two, were at significant risk for autism. "

The above theory is only 1% of autistic cases linking to genetic cause. However, many believe that genetic factors may be the most significant cause for this disorder as lists of genetic studies continue to grow.

The Theory of Vaccinations Causing Autism

In regards to the theory that autism is caused by the vaccinations given to children, there may be two different probable causes. One is the mercury based compound, thimerosal, which has now be removed from many vaccinations since the 1990s. However, despite the removal of this compound, the cases of autism continue to climb.

The other vaccination theory has to do with the mumps, measles, and rubella (also known as MMR) vaccine. This is often given in one dose, which many believe is too much for a child's intestines to handle. It is believed that separate doses should be given at different times, rather than taking all three compounds in one vaccine at once.

Many parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, but what about the exposure their children may have to illnesses and diseases if they don't?

Scientists and researchers are aggressively doing their best to find the cause of this disorder so that perhaps a cure or proper preventative measures can be taken to decrease the number of cases for autism. For now, education is best so that parents, guardians, or those who have autism will know at best how to cope with any issues they may have with autism.

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