"To develop autism in a girl requires more genetic mutations," Dawson said. The type of mutations they found are called "de novo" mutations, she added. This means that the genetic change occurs in the sperm or the egg. It isn't a gene that's passed down from the parents. These mutations can occur randomly, or they can be caused by an environmental trigger.
Because these studies are being presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Learn more about autism from the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
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