Autism: Environment or Genetics? Experts Say…

Photo by: Horia Varlan/Flickr

A hot topic in the Cognitive Science and Early Childhood sphere these days is autism. With prevalence rates rising and more American families encountering ASD, surrounding issues, such as healthcare, early intervention, and diagnosis also become topics of importance.

In fact, California Senator Barbara Boxer recently assembled hearings on the “State of Research on Potential Environmental Health Factors with Autism.”

The numbers revealed in the hearings would indicate that there is a component to autism, however small or large, that is associated with the environment. Experts agree that the primary explanation for the dramatic increase in autism is toxic environmental exposure and gene-environment interactions. New research shows that even low-dose, multiple toxic and infectious exposures may be a key factor to the onset of autism (Barrie, S 2010).

Dr. Isaac Pessah, Director of the UC Davis Center for Children’s Environmental Health, was recognized at the hearing hosted by Boxer.  Dr. Pessah conveyed that many of the molecular and cellular systems associated with autism are also the target of environmental chemicals currently of concern to human health because of their widespread use, especially in the US.

While we are still searching for specific factors in linking the environment and chemicals to autism, it is important that parents remain vigilant in what they expose their children to, and avoid contact with items that contain high levels of toxic chemicals.

For more on environmental factors and autism, you can read medical researcher, Stephen Barrie’s clinical study: CLICK HERE


Barrie, Stephen, ND. “Child Autism Epidemic Firmly Linked to Environment.” The Huffington Post. N.p., 30 Aug. 2010. Web. 31 Aug. 20 <>

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