Experts See Progress On Autism's Causes

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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UPDATE: Monday, April 9, 2012

More than $1 billion has been spent over the past decade searching for the causes of autism. Now, experts say they're seeing the beginning of a wave of scientific reports that should strengthen some theories, jettison others and perhaps even herald new drugs.

The causes of autism are believed to be complicated. In many cases, autism can be blamed on a combination of genetics and other factors.

Over the years, dozens of genes that appear to influence the risk of the autism have been identified. And a half-dozen drug companies are said to be working on developing new treatments.

Says one expert with the group Autism Speaks: "It's going to be an exciting time, we hope," when some of those results come in.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New research says obesity during pregnancy might increase chances for having a child with autism.

It's among the first studies linking the two. It doesn't prove obesity causes autism, but the authors say their results raise public health concerns because of the high level of obesity in the U.S.

The study involved about 1,000 California children, ages 2 to 5. Results are being released online Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

Previous research has linked obesity during pregnancy with stillbirths, preterm births and some birth defects.

The authors are with the University of California, Davis. They say the results add yet another incentive for maintaining a healthy weight.

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