The truth is that there is no one factor that researchers have been able to track down to being the single cause of autism. But, there are theories and with these theories is the eventual hope of finding the cause and then perhaps, a cure. This process will be long, but research never stops and that means that some day there will be a breakthrough.
Researchers are currently looking at a few possible answers to the question of what causes autism. Some believe it is gene based. While some researchers are looking for one gene as the answer to what causes autism, others pursue the idea that it is three or five genes that are linked together to produce the disorder. Some studies are showing that autism may be linked to a depressed immune system. While other studies are showing links between family members with dyslexia or depression. If there are links on both sides of the family the chances of having a child with autism appears to be much higher.
At the same time other researchers are finding association between illness in the first trimester of pregnancy and autism; specifically if the mother has rubella. At the same time there are questions regarding having vaccinations during the first trimester and autism. Particularly concerns are for the measles aspect of the MMR shot and the pertussis part of the DPT injection. Researchers are saying do not get vaccinated while pregnant.
Studies are being conduced on the brains of those with autism. These are, of course, post-mortem studies. They have found several common brain abnormalities. They have learned that there are two sections in the limbic system of the brain that are different form those who are not autistic. These two sections are the amygdale and the hippocampus. They control emotions, sensory input, learning and aggression. It seems that these scientists have found a connection even if they do not as of yet understand why the brains are different.
Other interesting discrepancies with those who do not have autism are serotonin levels. Some autistic people have too much while others have too little. Other disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or unipolar depression also have atypical levels of serotonin. Other people with autism have elevated levels of beta-endorphins. This is felt to contribute to the higher pain tolerance shown by some autism sufferers.
It is obvious to those who continue to research autism and its causes that so far there is not one answer to what causes autism coming to the forefront, but many pieces to a much larger puzzle that over time will hopefully give the answers that researchers and parents alike continue to search for.
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