Unfortunately, there is still a lot that doctors do not yet know about autism and Asperger's syndrome. So far, they are yet to have found one main cause for either of these conditions, but there are many risk factors that can increase the chances of autism in children. Read on to find out more about autism, and the common risk factors that are associated with both conditions.
Dealing with a child or a family member with autism can be extremely difficult. The severity of the condition will dictate how badly the sufferer is affected by their autism. Many adults and young children with a mild cases of autism and Asperger's syndrome, can expect to lead a relatively problem free life. But, those who are worst affected, may find daily life and general social interaction with others extremely hard to deal with. There are a long list of signs and symptoms related to autism such as personality disorders, severe behavioral problems and learning disabilities, that came make life difficult for the sufferer, for parents and families too. 
Much research has now taken place for autistic disorders, and doctors are now able to easily diagnose both autism and Asperger's syndrome. It is thought that almost 1 child in every 160 is affected by these condition types, and more and more cases of autism are being diagnosed each and every day.
Instead of one main cause, doctors and researchers have found that there are a number of risk factors and complications, that can increase the chance of autism and Asperger's syndrome in children. Here are some of the most common autism risk factors involved.
- It has been found that in many cases, autism is hereditary. If there is a family history of the condition, the risk is heavily increased. It's also extremely common for the parents, and/or close family members of someone with the condition, to show some of the most common minor signs of autism.
- The age at which people parent their children can also increase the risk of autism. Men who father children over the age of 40 years, are almost 6 times more likely to have a child with an autistic like disorder.
- Girls are less likely to suffer from either condition, and for every female with autism there are around four male cases reported.
- Young children with existing medical conditions such as Tourette syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, and epilepsy are far more likely than other young people to suffer from autism. If your child has any of these conditions, it's essential that you seek an autistic diagnosis from a health care professional. In addition, almost a third of young people with autism will end up developing epilepsy during childhood, or in later life. [2 & 3]
Although there are a number factors that can affect the likelihood of you having a child with autism, there is still very little known about the conditions, and there may be other risk factors involved that have yet to be discovered.
1) Autism and Asperger syndrome – http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/autism1.shtml. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.
2) Causes of autistic spectrum disorder – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Autistic-spectrum-disorder/Pages/Causes.aspx. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.
3) Older fathers 'raise autism risk' – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/5313874.stm. Accessed Sept 08, 2009.