Researchers have ditched the autism-vaccine hypothesis. Here’s what they think actually causes it.

Genes and the microbiome are some of the most promising leads.

Of all the issues doctors have explored in children’s health, none has been more exhaustively researched than the question of whether vaccines are linked to autism. After hundreds and hundreds of studies in thousands of children, “We can say with almost as much certainty than anybody could ever say that vaccines don’t cause autism,” Mayo Clinic autism researcher Dr. Sunil Mehta told me.

And yet the fear that they do remains stubbornly persistent, as a current measles outbreak in Minnesota shows. The virus is spreading among unvaccinated children — in this case, Somali-Americans in Minneapolis, after anti-vaccine advocates targeted their parents with a misinformation campaign. Now 78 people, most of them children, are very, very ill.

Today, about one in 68 US children has autism — a rate that’s remained unchanged since at least 1990, though there’s been a steady increase in awareness and diagnosis. And it’s the parents of some of these children who are among the most vocal proponents of the vaccine-autism link — in Minnesota and elsewhere. Many are frustrated, confused, and desperate for an explanation for why and how their children got the disorder.

It doesn’t help that doctors have long struggled to explain what exactly causes autism if vaccines don’t — many medical theories have been debunked and then replaced by new ones.

The medical community is getting closer and closer to finally zeroing in on the cause. I recently talked to half a dozen researchers on the cutting edge of this work to find out what they see as the latest and best evidence for what might trigger autism. They were excited about their new understandings of the genetic basis for autism — what they view as the most …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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