By Dr. Lata Bhat, Pediatrics
Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a chronic neurodevelopmental condition, which impairs the cognitive and emotional growth of children. The symptoms are usually spotted in children under the age of 3 years and sometimes even before 1 year. The condition is typified by difficulty or sometimes, disability in social interaction along with repetitive behaviour.
Though many probable causes of autism have been put forward, the exact cause is not known. The factors, which influence the development of autism in most cases, are as follows:
1. Genetic factors
Mutations in the X chromosome were found in some. Children with Down’s syndrome and some other genetic disorders are at increased risk of Autism.
2. Pre-natal Factors
The immune system is naturally weak during pregnancy and susceptible to infections. If the mother is affected by infectious diseases or extreme physical and emotional stress, the child might develop autism. Maternal smoking and drinking are also linked to autism. Advanced maternal age and Paternal age are risk factors for Autism.
3. Perinatal Factors
If the child is deprived of oxygen for too long (hypoxia) during birth or if the birth is premature, chances of autism are high.
4. Post-natal Factors
Exposure to toxins and allergies, deficiency of the required nutrients and oxidative stress within the first few weeks after birth can lead to a number of neurological diseases including autism and schizophrenia.
5. Family History
Family history of Autism especially a sibling with Autism is associated with higher risk of autism.
The symptoms are usually present in children under 3 years of age. The symptoms include:
- Impairment of Verbal and nonverbal communication.
- Over or under responsiveness to sound, pain and temperature.
- Repetitive behavioural patterns