Focus on Environmental Causes of Autism in the New York Times
In the 25 days leading up to Autism Speaks’ fifth anniversary, we summarized significant advances in autism science and updates since these advances occurred. This is a time for celebration and reflection, as well as focusing on next steps. On the eve of the fifth anniversary, this opinion piece, written by Nicholas Kristof, appeared in the New York Times and has generated considerable interest.
At Autism Speaks, we are investigating environmental links to autism as well as gene-environment interactions through our various grants and initiatives. In our environmental portfolio, we are currently supporting grants that examine the effects of environmental agents in animals, in which we look for some of the hallmarks of autism. Researchers in this area are studying animals with different genetic mutations and environmental exposures to the response of the immune system, the effectiveness of the body’s systems at clearing toxins and in changes in the expression of certain genes that occur as a result of the early environment. In addition we are also funding an expansion of epidemiology and brain development projects, including the Early Autism Risk Longitudinal Investigation (EARLI) and the Infant Brain Imaging Study (IBIS) to learn about gene-environment interactions that may affect the developing fetus. In the next weeks, we’ll be posting several pieces about gene-environment interactions to educate our community on these important interactions and inform you of the latest autism research in this area.