The Causes of Autism: How Implicated AreChromosomes 7, 15, and X?
Liu et al. (2001) explained autism as “a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by severe social and communicative deficits, together with a pattern of restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests.” Autism itself is just one disorder of a complex groupknown as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Four other disorders are included in thisspectrum: Rett Syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger Syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (Schanen, 2006).Autism was previously thought to be quite a rare disorder, but now, due to increasedunderstanding, it is estimated to be present in around 1 in 1,000 (Chen et al., 2007).Autism is a complex and highly heritable disorder with distinct evidence of geneticcauses (Veenstra-VanderWeele, 2004). It affects up to four times more males thanfemales (Klauck, 2006). Due to autism’s complexity, no single gene can be implicatedfor its expression. In fact, as many as 15 or more genes could be involved (Santangeloand Tsantsanis, 2005). This study will look in depth at three chromosomes wherecandidate genes have been identified: chromosome 7, 15, and X; and will determine howlikely these genes are to cause autism.So why is autism seen as a genetic disorder? In the late 1960’s, 20 years after Kanner and Asperger first believed autism to have a neuropathological origin, geneticswas accepted as the cause of autism. Twins studies demonstrated that the occurrence of autism in both siblings in monozygotic (identical) twins is about 60% while in dizygotic1