Monday, October 2, 2017

How Much of Autism is Genetic?

For a long time, autism wasn't understood well about where it comes from, and many people would argue. Nature vs. nurture: whether or not autism was a result of genetic makeup, or was a symptom of the environment (childhood experiences, vaccinations, etc). In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, and reported by Time Magazine, genetics was stated to account for about 83% of the disorder. A number of different case study designs were utilized including the study of identical twins, non identical twins, siblings, and parent/child relationships. What the study concluded was that a substantial proportion of autism causation could be traced back to genetics and a child's DNA could eventually be used as a predictor for if and when autism presents itself. The research is still in it's infancy, as the study only reported on the correlation between certain gene features and the presence of autism. Even though this study provides valuable insight into the nature of autism, and could lead to earlier and better diagnosis, as well as better treatment and care for autistic people, it does open up new issues to be dealt with. Should babies get screened for autism? Could knowing you're having an autistic baby be a valid reason for abortion? The scientific value of this study is great, but what kinds of moral and ethical implications is it going to entail? I think that although this is great knowledge to have about the condition, it is going to be the beginning of new moral and ethical controversies, similar to those we've had in the past over Down Syndrome and the like.


  1. I think that while this research can provide future treatment and care for affected people, the ethical problems that can arise are too risky. Since the start of genome editing, there have been multiple international conferences dedicated to discussing the ethical problems regarding using this technology. There are many ways that one can use this research, for malicious purposes or purely inquisitive purposes, however there should be limitations put forth before this research and technology gets out of hand. I think you posted interesting questions that need to be answered in the science world soon and fast.

  2. I believe the research being conducted is extraordinary. People who suffer from autism would be able to get better help because new findings will lead to more precise treatments. I think, if and only if, a better diagnosis and treatment arises from this study then babies should get screened for autism. This way, the parents will be prepared for the treatments that their child will need. For example, people can get screened for cancer now and that might save their lives and it also prepares them for what is about to come so I believe the same should be done for autism.

  3. I think this research will help pregnant couples prepare for what they might encounter with their child, which is a good thing. It is also good research that backs up pharmaceutical companies on how vaccinations do not inflict autism. While we have genome editing present today, I don't think people will see this as an ethically correct solution.