Autism | Causes & Risk Factors


What causes autism?

Doctors aren't sure what causes autism. Some studies have shown that the cause is genetic (runs in families). Certain medical problems or something in your child's surroundings may also play a role. In many cases, the cause of a child's autism is never known. Boys are more likely than girls to have autism. As doctors continue to study autism, they may learn more about what causes it.

Can vaccines cause autism?

No. Good research has shown that there is no link between autism and childhood vaccinations ("shots") such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

Vaccines are an important part of your child's health. If you have concerns about the safety of vaccines, talk to your doctor.

A note about vaccines

Sometimes the amount of a certain vaccine cannot keep up with the number of people who need it. More info...

My baby seemed fine. Why does he or she seem to have autism now?

We don't know why it happens, but approximately 20% of children who have autism seem to develop normally for the first 1 to 2 years of their lives. Then, these babies experience what doctors call a regression. This means that they lose abilities that they had before, such as the ability to talk.

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 02/14
Created: 04/01