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What Are the Causes and Risk Factors for Asperger’s Syndrome?
What Are the Possible Causes of Asperger’s Syndrome?
Many studies have looked at possible causes for autism spectrum disorders like Asperger’s. Some have provided clues that help doctors identify potential triggers.
Genes appear to affect a person’s chances of developing Asperger’s. While no one specific gene has been found to cause Asperger’s, the disorder seems to run in families. (1
For example, younger siblings of a child with Asperger’s are at a greater risk of developing the syndrome than other kids. Studies on identical twins have shown that if one twin has an autism spectrum disorder, the other is likely to be affected between 36 and 95 percent of the time. (2
Additionally, certain genetic conditions, such asFragile X syndromeRett syndrome, are linked to the development of Asperger’s. Fragile X syndrome is the most commonly known single-gene disorder, and accounts for about 2 to 3 percent of all autism spectrum disorders. (3
Spontaneous gene mutations, or gene changes that happen for unknown reasons, may also influence a child’s risk of developing Asperger’s.
Scientists continue to study how genes are related to Asperger’s. They hope to provide more answers to help better explain this complex connection.
Imaging studies of people with autism spectrum disorders have shown differences in certain parts of the brain, especially in the areas known as the frontal and temporal lobes. (4
Researchers are working to figure out whether these changes are due to gene abnormalities, damage during pregnancy or birth, an injury during the first few months of life, or a combination of several factors. (2)
Many experts believe environmental triggers may be a culprit for Asperger’s.
While more research needs to be done, some have theorized that certain issues during pregnancy may increase a baby’s risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder. Some possibilities include:
It’s important to note that many children who are exposed to these risks never develop Asperger’s or another form of autism.
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