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Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people behave and interact with the world around them.
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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 the symptoms and signs of autism becoming more noticeable often coincides with the timing of a child’s immunisation. However, numerous clinical studies have tested this theory, and there is a solid body of scientific evidence that vaccines do not cause autism.

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

Last reviewed: September 2018

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