Evidence suggests that there is no single cause of autism. And while researchers believe that genetics account for most of the factors contributing to autism, the existence of a single autism gene—or genes for autism-associated traits such as difficulty looking others in the eye—is unlikely, according to a February 28, 2019 article in Knowable Magazine.
The disease, which manifests in widely different ways, is likely influenced by combinations of genes that have varying effects, Elise Robinson, assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an associate member of the Broad Institute, told Knowable. Other factors that have been linked to autism include extreme preterm birth, older fathers, and exposure to pollution.
While there are many questions still to unravel, there is one conclusion that has achieved broad scientific consensus, according to the article: autism is not caused by vaccines.
Read the Knowable Magazine article: The quest for autism’s causes, and what it reveals about all of us
Study finds induced labor not associated with risk for autism spectrum disorders (Harvard Chan School release)
Fine particulate air pollution linked with increased autism risk (Harvard Chan School release)