News Stories

The Mystery of Autism Finally SOLVED

After all the controversy over the possible causes of the plague of autism in the West, a new study has finally revealed that older men are more likely to father a child who develops autism (or schizophrenia) because of random sperm mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, and we live in an age of divorce, where men often remarry younger women and have children with them. The study found that the age of the mother has no effect on the risk for these disorders. While these kinds of mutations may account for 15 to 30% of autism cases, they don't necessarily account for all of them.

But the news about older fathers isn't all bad: delaying fatherhood may offer survival advantages for our kids. Other studies show that children with older fathers and grandfathers appear to be "genetically programmed" to live longer.

Researchers found that the average child born to a 20-year-old father had 25 random mutations that could be traced to the father's sperm, and that the number increased by two mutations every year of the father's age, reaching 65 mutations for offspring of 40-year-old men. But the average number of mutations coming from the mother’s side was 15, no matter how old she was (although a woman needs to be within a certain age range in order to become pregnant).

In the August 22nd edition of the New York Times, Benedict Carey quotes researcher Fred Volkmar as saying, "This study provides some of the first solid scientific evidence for a true increase in the condition" of autism. It is extremely well done and the sample meticulously characterized."

While women are born with all their eggs (and some of them deteriorate as they age, leading to increased cases of infants born with birth defects such as Down's Syndrome), the genetic make-up of sperm changes as a man ages and besides deteriorating, an older father's sperm may have developed DNA that leads to a longer life--a trait the man then passes to his children, meaning that, if the children are male, they may pass on the same advantage on to THEIR kids.

Autism has been characterized as the "geek disease," and highly educated men often have their families later. Carey quotes researcher Evan E. Eichler as saying, "You are going to have guys who look at this and say, 'Oh no, you mean I have to have all my kids when I'm 20 and stupid?' Well, of course not. You have to understand that the vast majority of these mutations have no consequences, and that there are tons of guys in their 50s who have healthy children."

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Please stop with the purposefully inaccurate and sensationalized false and misleading headlines. The mystery of autism has not been solved. Even according to this story, 70 to 85% of autism cases have nothing whatsoever to do with late fatherhood. And the possibility that 15 to 30% may, does not begin to address why there may be an increased number of mutations in the sperm of older men. Does that happen because of environmental concerns? Emotional concerns? Spiritual concerns? "Late fatherhood linked to autistic offspring," seems to be a reasonable and truthful headline that folks would still click on to read yet won't leave them feeling that they were tricked and used. Isn't there enough of that stuff just at Yahoo to last us all a lifetime?

Yes, really, folks, this is misleading information. As someone who has worked with autistics for 40 years, I can tell you that there is not a single cause of autism. In the Autistic Spectrum Disorder, there are many contributory causes and to sum it all up is sensationalist, to be sure, but inaccurate for a fact.

I have to agree with the above. I would also like to make a suggestion as to a possible hidden cause of autism that hasn't gotten much press but may be the biggest factor. That is hyperinsulinemia (chronic high insulin levels in the blood) due to insulin resistance. This condition is epidemic due to the prevailing western diet heavy in processed foods, sugars and starches, yet we in medicine don't even test for it. Yes it leads to diabetes, but not always. Sometimes it leads to early death from heart disease or stroke before diabetes develops. It also damages the nervous system over time. The fetus of a woman whose insulin levels are chronically high will be affected by this. Likewise, this same child is likely to be eating the same diet that caused the problem in the mother. And autism is only one of the spectrum of nervous system disorders possible due to hyperinsulinemia. Think about the burgeoning rates of ADHD, bipolar disease in children, and so on.

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