The autism puzzle just got closer to completion thanks to a major study into the cause of a condition that affects one in every 110 American kids.
The results point to genetics playing a major role in the spectrum disorder.
According to summation by the Telegraph of the study run by 60-some teams in various European countries, dozens of "rogue" genes were found in common among children with autism.
These mutations were about 20 percent more common in kids on the spectrum than on kids who aren't.
Which doesn't sound like a huge number to those of us on the outside of the scientific community, it's true. I mean, if there's a 20 percent chance of rain, I don't necessarily pack an umbrella.
But scientists are calling this a major breakthrough. Professor Tony Monaco, a geneticist at Oxford University, told the Telegraph:
"By identifying the genetic causes of autism we hope in the future to be able to improve the diagnosis and treatment of this condition which can affect children and their families so severely."
That sounds like they're definitively putting genetics as a cause of autism -- although the cause of those genetic mutations is still up in the air.
Could it be toxins that cross the placenta barrier? A freak happening? Something passed down from the parents?
If you'd prefer to look at this research from the glass half-full perspective, here's the good news: If the scientists can identify the genes, at least they can actually TEST for autism in babies.
This means early intervention -- which the bulk of parents with autistic kids says makes a major difference -- can start even earlier.
Is this news something your family can use?
Image via Patrick Hoesly/Flickr