In a recent epidemiologic survey conducted in Utah, 241 autistic patients (DSM-III criteria) were found. Medical records of 233 autistics were surveyed for the presence of 36 potentially pathologic prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal factors. These results were compared with those of an identical survey of 62 of their nonautistic siblings, with the results of four previously published surveys, and with normative data. No potentially pathologic factor or group of factors occurred significantly more frequently among the autistic patients. Also, previous observations of significant differences in the occurrence of certain factors in the histories single vs multiple siblings with autism were not confirmed, with the exception of increased viral-type illness during gestation in single-incidence cases. Thus, the etiology of the brain pathology that characteristically disrupts normal development and produces the syndrome of autism remains obscure. Other data from the epidemiologic survey, however, suggest that the role of genetic factors needs to be explored further.

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