Latest news about autism

Having babies close together appears to increase the risk of autism, a new study shows, and the more closely babies are spaced, the higher the risk that the younger one will be diagnosed with autismThe findings, published in today's Pediatrics, are the latest clue in doctors' efforts to unravel the mystery of autism and its causes. The disorder, which affects one in 110 American children, has baffled experts and sparked controversy for years.Researchers have identified a number of risk factors for autism. 

Children at higher risk include those born prematurely, those with older parents and those who develop congenital rubella syndrome, which can occur when a pregnant women contracts German measles, says Andrew Shih, vice president for scientific affairs at Autism speaks, who described the new findings as "interesting and provocative."Autism rates today are at least 10 times higher than they were just a couple of decades ago, Insel says. About 25% of that increase is the result of changes in the way the condition is diagnosed, Bearman says.Genetics also appears to explain about 15% of cases, Insel says.

Scientists long ago dismissed vaccines as a cause of autism. One small but influential 1998 study in The Lancet, which launched a global vaccine-autism scare, has since been retracted and last week was labeled an "elaborate fraud" in an investigation in the British Medical Journal

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