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Autism Linked to Birth Problems

Factors Underlying Autism Make for Difficult Births

No Single Birth Factor Linked to Autism continued...

The findings add weight to previous data suggesting that the roots of autism extend back to a child's earliest days, says Opal Ousley, PhD, a research fellow at Emory University School of Medicine.

"It suggests that the events that produce autism are there before the behavioral manifestations of autism," Ousley tells WebMD. "The problem is that a lot of the findings are mixed. It is possible that autism is caused by many different things -- multiple genes, and multiple interactions between genes and the environment. Autism could be a common outcome of many different causes."

Autism Not Mothers' Fault

This does not in any way mean that mothers are to blame for their children's autism.

"[Parents] should not be worried that they contributed in any way to their child's autistic behaviors," Glasson says. "Plenty of children are born with assisted delivery or have older mothers and have perfectly normal development after birth."

While the study offers new clues, it leaves many questions unanswered. One of them is why, exactly, kids who develop autism have more difficult births than other kids do.

"That's the big question. Unfortunately, the nature of the data we collected does not give us any answers," Glasson says. "Research has a long way to go yet to accurately describe the causes of autism in children. This study has shown that some children who develop autism experience more difficulties [in the womb] and during delivery. The reasons for this are unknown, but may become clearer when information about the causes and associations of autism disorders become known."

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