etiology ˌē-tē-ˈä-lə-jē noun
1. the cause of a disease
2. the philosophical study of causation
The word etiology has appeared in three articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Jan. 6 in “Early Treatment for Autism Is Critical, New Report Says” by Perri Klass, M.D.:
In December, the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a new clinical report on autism, an extensive document with an enormous list of references, summarizing 12 years of intense research and clinical activity. During this time, the diagnostic categories changed — Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder, diagnostic categories that once included many children, are no longer used, and we now consider all these children (and adults) to have autism spectrum disorder, or A.S.D.
… The new report also takes into account the research on the etiology of autism, and suggests that it’s worth offering every family the opportunity to look for specific genetic causes, though some families will choose not to have that testing done, and though the knowledge we have now won’t offer clear answers in the majority of cases. “There’s more and more data, and the more we look for, the more we find,” Dr. Levy said.