Asperger syndrome causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]

Causes

  • The exact cause is unknown. More than likely, an abnormality in the brain is the cause of Asperger syndrome.
  • There is a possible link to autism, and genetic factors may play a role. The disorder tends to run in families. A specific gene has not been identified. Although no specific gene has yet been identified, multiple factors are believed to play a role in the expression of autism, given the phenotypic variability seen in this group of children. Evidence for a genetic link is the tendency for AS to run in families and an observed higher incidence of family members who have behavioral symptoms similar to AS but in a more limited form (for example, slight difficulties with social interaction, language, or reading). Most research suggests that all autism spectrum disorders have shared genetic mechanisms, but AS may have a stronger genetic component than autism. There is probably a common group of genes where particular alleles render an individual vulnerable to developing AS; if this is the case, the particular combination of alleles would determine the severity and symptoms for each individual with AS.
  • A few ASD cases have been linked to exposure to teratogens (agents that cause birth defects) during the first eight weeks from conception. Although this does not exclude the possibility that ASD can be initiated or affected later, it is strong evidence that it arises very early in development.[1] Many environmental factors have been hypothesized to act after birth, but none has been confirmed by scientific investigation.[2]

References

  1. Arndt TL, Stodgell CJ, Rodier PM (2005). "The teratology of autism". Int J Dev Neurosci. 23 (2–3): 189–99. doi:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2004.11.001. PMID 15749245.
  2. Rutter M (2005). "Incidence of autism spectrum disorders: changes over time and their meaning". Acta Paediatr. 94 (1): 2–15. doi:10.1080/08035250410023124. PMID 15858952.




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