Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction in individuals with this syndrome. It appears to be the result of the action of several developmental factors affecting some or all of the brain’s functioning systems. Although it is not considered an inherited syndrome, there is some similarity between affected children and their parents. In addition, Asperger Syndrome is known to be genetic, as there are multiple genetic factors involved in the development of this disease.
Is Asperger genetic, neurobiological or environmental?
The causes of the disease are very heterogeneous, with genetic, neurobiological and environmental factors contributing to its development. The fact that several genetic factors contribute to the development of a disease does not mean that this disease is hereditary. Therefore, Asperger’s is not a hereditary syndrome, although it is genetic.
Hundreds of genes related to this disease have been described, but no specific mutation that is exclusive to developmental disorders, such as Asperger’s, Autism, etc., has been recognized. There are multiple studies that relate certain mutations in genes involved in the development of Asperger Syndrome, these genetic factors alter brain development through the inactivation of important biological pathways.
It is important to note that having the presence of mutations or polymorphisms related to Asperger Syndrome does not mean that the disease will develop. But it does imply a greater genetic predisposition to suffer from it. However, as mentioned above, Asperger Syndrome is not only genetic, but environmental factors also contribute to its development. Environmental factors that may act as an independent risk factor or that may affect existing genetic factors in individuals with a greater genetic predisposition are:
- Parents age
- Perinatal and obstetric events
- Environmental factors
- Fetal environment
- Toxic exposure
In order to know the genetic predisposition of a person to develop Asperger Syndrome, a genetic test can be performed to study the mutations associated with the disease. In this way, measures can be taken that do not increase exposure to environmental factors. Asperger Syndrome as such is not inherited, but genetic factors that increase the genetic predisposition can be inherited. Genetic testing for those individuals suspected of having Asperger Syndrome or another developmental syndrome can help in a more accurate and rapid diagnosis.
Answering the question we asked at the beginning of this article, we can confirm that Asperger Syndrome is not hereditary, although it is a disease that has developed thanks to the participation of genetic factors.