So much is still unknown about the causes of autism, and yet there are a wide range of suggested triggers and causes for this condition. Is it environmental or genetic? Does the modern vaccination program have a part to play? In this article, I discuss the major suggested causes and what this means to parents today.

One of the frustrations with autism is that almost all of the potential “causes” of this condition are present for all children, yet only some children (1 in 150) actually get autism. Some use this to suggest that environment cannot therefore have a part to play. My feeling is that, just like cancer can be caused by passive smoking, the environment has a major part to play, but not everyone exposed to these triggers will actually get autism.

The first suggested cause of autism is vaccinations. The suggested link between vaccines and autism has caused quite a stir around the world, with many parents choosing to stagger the vaccines for their children, or to miss out on controversial vaccinations completely. In the USA, the vaccination program gives a huge 36 vaccines between birth and age 6. Other countries, such as Denmark, only give 12 vaccines. Interestingly, Denmark has a significantly lower occurrence of autism than America. To date, however, the link has not been scientifically proven and you are still recommended to follow the standard vaccination protocol of your country.

Another suggested cause of autism is heavy metals, such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Because of modern industrial processes, these metals are emitted daily into our environment. Although our bodies can deal with a certain level of these metals - many are eventually excreted - they can also build up in the body, sometimes to quite high levels. Some autistic children have been found to be less able to remove these harmful metals.

As well as heavy metals, our environment is polluted in other ways, including dioxins, solvents, nicotine and the chemical PCB. Whether there is a direct link from these chemicals to the rise in Autism is unproven, but they have definitely been seen to alter and affect the development of children. The cleaner the environment, the less the risk of problems.

Autistic children have been found, through thorough study, to be twelve times more likely to have suffered some kind of injury at birth. Studies show that most autistic children tend to have similar damage to their brains, and the conclusion is that birth injuries could be a trigger for autism in later life.
Another trigger for autism has been suggested to happen even before birth. One study suggests that in some cases, antibodies from the mother can cross the placenta which can attack and damage the growing brain of the child. What can be done to prevent this is unfortunately unknown, but it is hoped that future research will suggest a way to prevent this trigger.

Candida yeast has been found, in some studies, to be at a high concentration in the gut of autistic children. This yeast can create its own toxins, which may affect the nervous and immune systems of the child. Yeast can be controlled by diet or medication, and this has been seen to make improvements in some children.

General gut problems have been seen to be found in over 70% of children with autism. Some studies suggest that there is then a gut-brain link, and that the problems in the gut may trigger or worsen the autism symptoms. Many DAN! doctors proscribe a carefully controlled diet to help reduce these effects, and in many children, the change in diet can significantly improve them.

Food allergies are another linked trigger for autism. Specifically, an intolerance to gluten or casein is linked to autism. Although it can seem difficult to remove these items from the diet (they are found in wheat and milk respectively), a controlled diet IS possible, and this can make a vast difference for some children.

Lastly, we come to genetic triggers or causes for autism. Although no clear link between one specific genetic make-up and autism has been found, and it is not even known if genetic abnormalities are the cause of autism, there is a body of research that some children seem to be genetically susceptible to autism, and that a trigger later in life will bring on the condition. Mitochondrial Dysfunction, another genetic condition, has been strongly linked to a susceptibility to autism.

Thankfully, research into Autism is ongoing, and with an American commitment to research in this area, it is hoped that before long we will know more about the widespread autism spectrum disorders.

Author's Bio: 

Dr Chun Wong is a practicing physician in Illinois and specializes in the biomedical approach to Autism. He spends his time researching the treatment of Autism in children.

You can get more information about Dr Chun Wong and Autism from