Researchers studying the DNA of autistic children have discovered a pair of genetic mutations that raise the risk of developing autism as high as a hundredfold, USA Today reports. The defects in chromosome 16 occur in just 1% of autistic kids, but that figure represents some 10,000 children. A test has been developed to identify the mutations, which may be "the tip of the iceberg" of genetic aberrations linked to autism, said one expert.
The discovery weakens the argument that rising rates of autism are caused by vaccines. "If we can identify children at risk for autism very early, we have the chance to intervene early while the brain is still developing," a doctor said.