Over the last couple articles concerning autism and vaccines, I have posted information from Mary Coleman's (2005) The Neurology of Autism, which based on the research at hand, indicates that autism spectrum is likely to be similar to mental retardation and multiple congenital abnormalities in that there are literally thousands of gene combinations resulting in ASDs and that these are almost entirely set by birth.
Here's a study showing the likelihood that ASDs are in place before birth:
"Autism is one of a group of developmental disorders that have devastating lifelong effects on its victims. Despite the severity of the disease and the fact that it is relatively common (15 in 10,000) , there is still little understanding of its etiology. Although believed to be highly genetic, no abnormal genes have been found. Recent findings in autism and in related disorders point to the possibility that the disease is caused by a gene-environment interaction. Epidemiologic studies indicate that the number of cases of autism is increasing dramatically each year. It is not clear whether this is due to a real increase in the disease or whether this is an artifact of ascertainment. A new theory regarding the etiology of autism suggests that it may be a disease of very early fetal development (approximately day 20-24 of gestation) . This theory has initiated new lines of investigation into developmental genes. Environmental exposures during pregnancy could cause or contribute to autism based on the neurobiology of these genes. Key words: autism, autism epidemiology, autism etiology, children, developmental disorders, retinoids, gene-environment interaction, Hox genes. -- Environ Health Perspect 108(suppl 3) :401-404 (2000) ."