Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by impairment of social communication, repetitive behavior and restrictive interest. The risk of ASD is strongly associated with the prenatal period – studies have found that the administration of valproic acid (VPA) to pregnant mothers increases risk of developing an Autism spectrum disorder in the child. Patients with ASD often exhibit an alteration in the autonomic nervous system.
Valproic acid is a synthetic crystalline compound with anticonvulsant properties, used (generally as salts) in the treatment of epilepsy.
The study basically puts a definite end to the theories only attributing the development of Autism spectrum disorders to ‘environmental’ or ‘epigenetic’ causes. It shows that there only chemical impact on the body / it’s nerval system is sufficient to cause this disorder.
More on the study here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74662-0
In related news, a Hong Kong-based scientist has recently developed a method to use artificial intellicence (AI) combined with machine learning to scan retinas of children as young as six years to detect early autism or the risk of autism. His method is not available as a product for clinical use yet, but is hoped to get to this stage by the end of this year.