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Autism is a developmental disability that can cause a complex range of behavioural symptoms and may be mild, moderate or severe.

Autism is a developmental disability that can cause a complex range of behavioural symptoms and may be mild, moderate or severe.
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Causes of autism

1-minute read

When a child is diagnosed with autism, parents and loved ones look for answers, including trying to understand the causes. Discovering a child has autism can be difficult.

It’s uncertain what causes autism, but there is strong evidence for a genetic link. Research is also looking at the role of the environment in triggering autism, such as viral infections, complications during pregnancy and air pollutants.

Autism has been mistakenly associated with childhood vaccinations. This may be because the onset of autism often coincides with the timing of a child’s immunisation. However, numerous clinical studies have tested this theory, and no evidence has been found to support a link between vaccinations and autism.

Likewise, autism is not caused by a person’s cultural or social surroundings.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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