What Factors Increase the Risk of Autism?

There is much discussion among those in the autism community about certain factors that may increase the risk of autism. Many theories and studies are out there – genetics, prenatal environment, vaccines – the list goes on and on. Recently, however, I’ve had a number of people ask me for more specifics as to the increase risk of autism associated with older fathers. 

In a study published in February, the researchers analyzed almost 5 million births in California during the 1990’s with 12,159 of those cases being children diagnosed with autism. In the study, they looked at whether an age of the parent was consistently associated with an increased incidence of autism, of if the risk increased for parents considerably older or younger than the norm.

The study suggested that when the father was 40 and over and the mother 30 and younger, the increased risk was especially pronounced – 59% greater than for younger fathers.  This study also suggested that every five-year increase in a mother’s age raised her risk of having a child with autism by 18%; a 40-year old woman’s risk was 50% greater than that of a woman who became a mother in her late 20’s and 77% higher than that of women 25 and younger.

I am sure that we will continue to see additional studies analyzing additional risk factors in autism.  I will share them with you as they are published.

For your reference:

I had completed the May 10 blog on bullying when I discovered a great resource, the Special Needs Anti-Bullying Toolkit,  This toolkit is a set of resources for people to confront bullying of children with special needs from all angles – including educational and legal rights, prevention programs, and how to talk to your child about this issue.  In addition, this provides the top ten facts parents, educators and students need to know.  I would encourage all parents to review this material.

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