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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What causes autism?

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    Autism Victoria, trading as Amaze, is a member-based not-for-profit organisation and is the peak body for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) in the state of Victoria. View Profile

    The symptoms of autism are caused by differences in autistic people’s brains. Why their brains are different is something we don’t understand well, but it seems as if genetics will play a significant role along with some other factors.

    Many of the symptoms are present either at birth or become apparent in years immediately after when a child would be expected to have developed language and started to form social relationships. For this reason, it seems likely that it is a disorder that people are born with. There is good evidence of heritability, but it is a very complex mechanism that will likely have some environmental input as well.

    If you would like to read more, they have some information at the Raising Children Network.

  • My research interests include immunology and the mechanisms of amyloid formation. The latter has implications for people who are dealing with Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease ... View Profile

    There is some evidence that differences in the gut microbiome (ie, differences in the kinds of bacteria which normally live in the gut) are associated with autism. This free-access paper is a summary: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22233678  .

    This work is very much at the “basic science” stage at the moment but if it is confirmed and extended it may lead to new therapeutic approaches.

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