Risk Factors

Two new studies published on July 9, 2013, in the journal Translational Psychiatry support the hypothesis that maternal autoantibodies, Y-shaped proteins of the immune system, contribute to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk. One study examined autoantibody identity and the second study used rhesus monkeys to test autoantibodies’ causative role in ASD. Please explore this section to learn about other risk factors associated with ASD.


In the Risk Factors Section, you will learn about:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be caused by multiple conditions, called risk factors,that have been linked to an increased likelihood of developing ASD. Risk factors can be genetic or environmental.

Genetic risk factors relate to inborn problems in our DNA, such as a gene deletion or duplication. Genetic risk factors are present at birth.

Environmental risk factors, however, stem from social, physical, or chemical exposures and can be present during fetal development or months to years after birth.

In the Risk Factors section of the Autism Reading Room, scientific experts discuss the interaction between environment and genetic risk factors as well as misconceptions about the causes of ASD.