Turkish Archives of Pediatrics
Review

Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2023: A Challenge Still Open

1.

IRCCS Istituto delle Scienze Neurologiche di Bologna, UOSI Disturbi dello Spettro Autistico, Bologna, Italy

2.

Department of Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences, Bologna University, Bologna, Italy

Turk Arch Pediatr 2023; 58: 566-571
DOI: 10.5152/TurkArchPediatr.2023.23194
Read: 306 Downloads: 115 Published: 13 October 2023

In this paper, we provide an update on autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including epidemiology, etiopathogenesis, clinical presentation, instrumental investigations, early signs, onset patterns, neuropsychological hypotheses, treatments, and long-term outcome. The prevalence of this condition has increased enormously over the last few decades. This increase prompted a search for possible environmental factors whose effects would add up to a genetic predisposition leading to the development of autism. But the genetic and environmental variables involved are extremely numerous, and conclusive data regarding the etiopathogenesis are still far away. Assuming that a well-defined etiology is still found today only in a minority of cases, numerous pathogenetic mechanisms have been hypothesized. Among these, we mention oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, alteration of the intestinal microbiota, immune dysregulation, and neuroinflammation. These pathogenetic mechanisms could alter epigenetic status and gene expression, finally leading to ASD. Inherent in the term spectrum is the great clinical heterogeneity of this condition, mainly due to the frequent comorbidity that characterizes it. The earlier the diagnosis is made and the earlier psychoeducational treatment begins, the better the prognosis. In this sense, the role of pediatricians can be decisive in making children with signs suggestive of autism undergo a specialist diagnostic course. The development of increasingly advanced cognitive-behavioral educational techniques has considerably improved the prognosis of affected individuals, even though only a small minority of them come off the autistic spectrum. Pharmacological therapies are used to treat comorbidities. During childhood, the most important prognostic factor for long-term outcome seems to be intellectual functioning.

Cite this article as: Posar A, Visconti P. Autism spectrum disorder in 2023: A challenge still open. Turk Arch Pediatr. 2023;58(6):566-571.

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