Aims – To present arguments justifying the view that autism is a primary disorder of the CNS development resulting in an impairment of the child's interpersonal communication, restricted and stereotyped patterns of interests and activities, and the onset of other developmental abnormalities by the age of 3.
Review – Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the pathogenesis of a wide variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. It has been suggested that autism may result from the developing foetus exposure to chemical substances (such as thalidomide or high levels of testosterone) or viral infection (with e.g. rubella, mumps and cytomegalovirus). In the paper also genes involved in the pathogenesis of autism as well as relevant chromosomal loci are discussed.