Research published in the journal Nature is giving some new clues about what may be contributing to the development of autism in children.
Autism affects an estimated 1 in 88 children in the United States and over the past couple of decades more research has been done to find out what is behind the neurodevelopmental disorder.
At first it was thought that a single gene was the cause of the disorder, but now researchers believe that multiple mutations are putting children at risk. Scientists have been able to identify about 1,000 genes that may be involved.
In the three separate studies published this week, researchers analyzed the exomes of parents and children with autism. They concluded that spontaneous genetic mutations in the exome play a significant role in raising a child's risk of developing autism.
One study looked at over two hundred families with one child with autism and one without.
Another team look at how the spontaneous mutations of genes interfered with biological development that are important for communication in the brain.
The third found many mutations seen in children with autism were not necessarily connected to the disorder; but found that mutations that are linked to autism are spread over many genes.
In general, the researchers collectively found that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder and the disruptions that lead to the disorder are laid down very early during brain formation.
The scientists say much more research is still need, but this research could help with testing that could help to identify children who are at risk for autism so they can get help early.
((Sources: CNN News and www.nature.com))