“We have to look also at environmental factors, and from my point of view, the interaction between the genetic factors and the environmental factors ... It looks like some shared environmental factors play a role in autism, and the study really points toward factors that are early in life that affect the development of the child"
Joachim Hallmayer, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Stanford University in California
WebMD reports on a new study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry which found that autism was surprisingly common in fraternal twins, despite the fact that they don’t share as many of the same genes as identical twins, suggesting that some common environmental factors might be playing as big a role in causing their autism disorders as genetics. Dr. Hallmayer was one of the study researchers who were surprised with the result. Is this an awakening in the autism research professions?
For some it probably is. For others not so much. Even this humble autism father/blogger reported an autism paradigm shift 4 years ago and I have followed it since then blogging on developments in the area of environmental causes of autism. But there are die-hards who will not be convinced, who will not change their minds no matter what. Academic careers and reputations as expert witnesses have been built promoting the view that autism is 100% genetic and that accordingly autism disorders are not actually increasing. Reported increases of autism diagnoses are routinely dismissed as due entirely to diagnostic definition change and increased awareness. Of course manufacturers of products from vaccines to children's toys have a vested interest in encouraging the "it's gotta be genetic" autism causation paradigm described over a decade ago by Teresa Binstock. Many will never admit that autism could ever be caused by the interaction of environmental and genetic factors.