The Epidemiology team at the Seaver Autism Center for Research and Treatment at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai analyzes the distribution, patterns, and determinants of health in the autism population.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that can be seen as early as six months old. When rates of autism began growing in the 1980s, epidemiologists began collecting and analyzing data to investigate the cause of the disease and identify who is at risk. Due to the wide variety of autism disorders, many epidemiologists focus their efforts on a single issue.   

Epidemiologists help get to the heart of health issues. The Epidemiology team at the Seaver Center is a renowned research group that focuses on identifying, tracking, and analyzing how diseases are caused, spread, and can be prevented in an effort to improve public health. Our team explores autism through rigorous research and collaboration that provides information to help reduce and prevent conditions and diseases.

Epidemiologists use three techniques to study diseases and conditions: descriptive, analytic, and experimental. Epidemiologists provide reliable information to the public regarding how many cases of disease there are, understanding the causes, and the genes that are affected. As research continues, epidemiologists learn more about autism each year.


At the Seaver Autism Center, our epidemiology team is currently conducting the following research studies:

  • Modifiable risk factors—This research area focuses on projects in obstetrics, exposure biology, and pharmacoepidemiology at the population level. We seek to identify and characterize risk factors and risk periods for the development of autism.

  • Functional epidemiology—It is critically important to understand how early-life factors are associated with a risk of autism. Understanding the causal mechanisms underlying the impact of autism risk factors could help improve prevention efforts and treatment development.

  • Life course outcomes—There is an urgent need to learn how autism develops across the life span, which other conditions tend to co-occur, and when and how early life exposures shape life course and outcome. We are addressing these questions using population-based resources.

  • Early brain development—We would like to understand brain development and the biologic pathways underlying autism. This multidisciplinary effort brings together expertise in genetics, brain imaging, computational biology, and epidemiology to understand the etiology of early brain development.