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News Link • Health and Physical Fitness

Studies: Autism may be triggered in the womb


Environmental factors may play a greater role in autism than previously thought, tipping the scale away from a strict focus on genetics, two studies released on Monday suggest.

In one, a team at Stanford University compared cases of autism in identical and fraternal twins and found that fraternal twins -- who share only half of the same genes -- have unusually high rates of autism, suggesting that factors other than genetics may be triggering the disease.

In another, researchers at health insurer Kaiser Permanente found mothers of children with autism were twice as likely to have been prescribed a common antidepressant during the year before their pregnancy than mothers of healthy children.

And the risk was even greater -- a threefold increase -- when the drug was taken in the first trimester of pregnancy.


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