Harvard Mental Health Letter

Autism spectrum disorders revisited

Several studies raise new questions about cause and prevention.

The conventional wisdom has always been that the autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) develop mostly because of genetic rather than environmental factors. Indeed, the ASDs are usually considered among the most "heritable" psychiatric disorders, with studies in twins suggesting that genetic factors account for at least 90% of the risk of developing an ASD — much more than the genetic risk of depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric conditions.

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