Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New Research Links Autism & Environment

GUEST POST: by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
Executive Director & CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

A new scientific study linking autism to environmental exposures has rocked the pediatric health care community—including Healthy Child Healthy World. Just last month, I introduced the newest article in our “Perspectives” series [http://healthychild.org/blog/comments/healthy_childs_experts_on_autism/], featuring contributions from members of our advisory boards, as well as prominent organizations and members of the scientific community, by referencing a group of experts who agreed that “there is no clear data on why autism occurs.”

That was then, this is now.

On Monday, the story broke that researchers at the University of California at San Francisco and Stanford University conducted a study of 192 pairs of twins and found that genetics account for about 38 percent of the risk of autism, and environmental factors account for about 63 percent. The study will be published in November in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

To say that this is important is an understatement. Resulting stories in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and countless other online publications reported the newly discovered link between the environment and autism.

Experts predict that the data will result in a seismic shift in perception of the disability, which now affects one in every 100 children—or one in every 70 boys. Autism is America’s fastest growing disability—increasing nearly 400% over the last 20 years—and now affects an estimated 1.5 million children in the United States alone.

Find out more, plus an easy pre-conception practice that can decrease the risk of autism by almost half, when you read the story at HealthyChild.org. 

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