"One compelling question is what is causing the mutations ... The obvious conclusion one has to reach is that something environmental may well be the cause of these [spontaneous] changes in DNA"
Irva Hertz-Picciotto, autism researcher and professor of public health science at UC Davis, commenting on studies led by Matthew W. State and Michael Wigler, showing hundreds of spontaneous mutations linked to autism, LA Times, June 9, 2011
The gene environment interaction (GEI) model of autism causation has been emerging over the past half dozen years. Even this humble layperson has noted the GEI model on several occasions on this blog. The "it's gotta be genetic" (IGBG) model was noted over a decade ago by Teresa Binstock. The GEI model has developed despite, or perhaps more accurately because of, the almost exclusive dedication of research dollars to the "it's gotta be genetic" (IGBG) model of autism causation.
It is the failure of the pure genetic research to identify a specific genetic basis for autism that only now is beginning to cause its adherents to doubt their faith. It is the failure of the pure genetic model to explain autism causation beyond the existence of hundreds of spontaneous mutations that must finally make even the most determined of the IGBG school of autism causation ask ... could environmental factors be involved? Spontaneous mutation is giving rise to spontaneous combustion as the purely genetic model of autism causation burns in the flames of failure.
Autism's most compelling question, as stated by Hertz-Picciotto: What is causing the spontaneous mutations?
I have often thought myself that perhaps it is that in many cases that genetic and environmental issues both play a role.
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