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Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2012 Sep;14(3):281-92.

Autism risk factors: genes, environment, and gene-environment interactions.

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INSERM U 955, IMRB, Psychiatry Genetics, Creteil, France.


The aim of this review is to summarize the key findings from genetic and epidemiological research, which show that autism is a complex disorder resulting from the combination of genetic and environmental factors. Remarkable advances in the knowledge of genetic causes of autism have resulted from the great efforts made in the field of genetics. The identification of specific alleles contributing to the autism spectrum has supplied important pieces for the autism puzzle. However, many questions remain unanswered, and new questions are raised by recent results. Moreover, given the amount of evidence supporting a significant contribution of environmental factors to autism risk, it is now clear that the search for environmental factors should be reinforced. One aspect of this search that has been neglected so far is the study of interactions between genes and environmental factors.


autism; environment; genetic; interaction; risk

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