Autism Linked to DNA, Study

Researchers at Cornell University found evidence backing early studies showing a correlation between autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and DNA mutations. Results of this latest study, which showed that children with ASD have more than twice as many harmful mutations in DNA than their siblings without autism, were published in PLOS Genetics.

The exact cause for autism is unknown, but the developmental disorder has been linked to environment, biological, and genetic factors. This recent research has focused on mutations in the parts of cells called mitochondria, which help convert fat, protein, and sugar into energy.

Mutations in mitochondrial DNA may be inherited from the mother, or may occur before birth, during development. In addition to developmental disorders, mitochondrial dysfunction is also associated with metabolic diseases.

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