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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Autism
      Category : Health Centers > Mental Health (Mental Disorders)


Alternate Names : Autistic Disorder, PDD

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Autism is a condition that affects development of the brain. Autism severely affects a person's social, mental, emotional, and communications skills.

What is going on in the body?

Autism is the most severe form of the pervasive developmental disorders, which affect a person's ability to interact with others. The hallmark signs of autism are extreme difficulty in responding to social interactions and communicating with others. Autism is most often noticed before the age of 3. It occurs four times more often in boys than in girls. It seems to appear equally among all parts of society. It affects about 5 out of 10,000 people.

Some people who have autism may also have other disorders that affect the brain. These include:

  • epilepsy
  • Down syndrome
  • fragile X syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • What are the causes and risks of the condition?

    The causes of autism are not well known. Experts suspect a genetic factor. What is known is that none of the following can cause autism.

  • bad parenting
  • mental illness
  • a child's naughty behavior
  • Psychological factors have also not been found to contribute to autism.

    Some cases of autism have been associated with trauma, disease, or structural abnormalities before or during birth. These include:

  • encephalitis or other serious infections affecting the brain as an infant
  • lack of oxygen during birth
  • the mother having rubella, also called German measles, while she was pregnant
  • untreated phenylketonuria, a problem in the body's ability to handle certain chemicals named phenylketones


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    Autism: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Eileen McLaughlin, RN, BSN
    Reviewer: Lama Rimawi, MD
    Date Reviewed: 09/25/01

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