Type of Parents At Risk for Children With Autism

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Joined: 7 Jun 2015
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12 Jun 2015, 12:04 pm

Here is the source:

https://ca.shine.yahoo.com/the-type-of- ... 04526.html

A new study links parental age to autism. (Photo: Kelli Seeger Kim/Stocksy)

A massive new study on autism risk has found elevations related to parental age — of both teen moms and older parents.

With an analysis of more than 5.7 million children in five countries, the study, published Wednesday in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, is the largest of its kind to ever look at the connection between parental age and autism risk.

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“The size of the study speaks to the definitiveness of the findings,” says co-author Michael Rosanoff, director of public health research forAutism Speaks, the organization that funded the study. “We can now say confidently that advanced paternal and maternal age is a risk factor for autism.” Such findings are not new, he tells Yahoo Parenting, but this is by far the most sweeping of its kind.

It also turned up some new correlations: In addition to finding that autism rates were 66 percent higher among children born to dads over the age of 50 than those in their 20s (and 28 percent higher for dads in their 40s), researchers found rates were 18 percent higher with teen moms than those with moms in their 20s.

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Also, autism rates were 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s — and higher than usual when there were wide gaps, of 10 years or more, between parents. That was especially true when dads were between 35 and 44 and their partners were at least a decade younger.

The increased risk on both sides of the age spectrum raise many questions, and Rosanoff says, “was intriguing to the investigators.”

Theories regarding the rise in autism risk for kids of older parents are pretty solid, he notes, explaining that one points to evidence that “we accumulate mutations in sperm and egg cells as we age.” Another hypothesis is that people who have children at advanced ages may do so because they themselves are “on the spectrum,” and may have social difficulties that made it tough for them to couple up and become parents for much of their early adult lives; in these cases, researchers theorize, there may be a genetic link to autism.

Looking at higher risk among teen moms, Rosanoff adds, scientists believe age itself might point to a “suboptimal pregnancy,” with less medical monitoring and higher health risks in general.

Still, there’s no reason for alarm, notes co-author Sven Sandin, a medical epidemiologist, in an Autism Speaks press release. “Although parental age is a risk factor for autism, it is important to remember that, overall, the majority of children born to older or younger parents will develop normally,” says the doctor, a medical epidemiologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York, and Sweden’s Karolinska Institute.

The goal of the new study was to determine whether advancing maternal or paternal ages independently increase autism risk, and to what extent. But much more research is needed before any recommendations about birth and parenting age get officially changed, Rosanoff says.

“Risk doesn’t mean cause,” he notes. “These are risk factors helping us to understand ideological pathways — but not a cause in itself.”

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Joined: 16 Mar 2013
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13 Jun 2015, 12:26 pm

Says nothing much about parents in their 30s, my parents were both in their 30s when they had me. Maybe they didn't find enough change to 20s to be significant.

Doesn't surprise me that 20s is the optimal age for pregnancy though.


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13 Jun 2015, 6:52 pm

Kanner himself noticed this and commented on it. It must have really jumped out at him in the 1940's because older parents were so far outside the norm. These days it's pretty common for people to not have kids till older so you do need Big Data to notice the trend.

Unfortunately, Kanner's take on the cause was that some women just don't want to be mothers at all and finally have a child by accident or because of social pressure and then they are cold to the kid they never wanted. It was the beginning of the Refrigerator Mother theory. This article puts a much more generous spin on that by theorizing that adults on the spectrum themselves will tend to have kids later but just because carrying the genes made them socially awkard, not ecause of disliking children.


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Joined: 28 Sep 2011
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14 Jun 2015, 2:02 pm

I'll buy that, as sperm and eggs degrade over time, de novo mutations become more likely. Credible.

I will also buy that a lot of those kids are ASD because their parents are as well.

How likely is an ASD 16-year-old (at least, one that boys don't find too abrasive to f**k) to have the assertivenes skills to politely but firmly say "NO"?? For that matter, how likely is she to say "NO" at all, when she's finally gotten a boy to like her and everyone thinks that everyone's doing it and the thing she wants most in the world is to seem normal???

How likely is it that it's going to take ASD longer to meet the right person, the one we feel comfortable around being ourselves, the one who can see ourselves and not run away???? That's going to take into the mid-30s for most of us. Thirties and forties seems to be the peak of "I have learned enough social rules to function, and my cognitive processing has not started slowing down enough to make it no longer a viable coping strategy."

Let's say you get engaged to a peer (+/- 3 years) at 36. A year to 18 months to "do" the wedding, and then three to five years spent adjusting to that before you're ready for the risk of kids, and POOF! you're a 40-something first-time parent.

It accounts for the age gap, too. Think. You're awkward, don't fit in with your peers, but you don't want to live and die alone. What do you do? You turn over every rock, get friendly with every not-scary person who will actually converse with you. Older, younger, different religion or color or culture-- beggars can't be choosers. And you meet this nice person who is either...

...older, with the benefit of compassion from experience, who instead of thinking you're a freak thinks you're just young (and might be willing to put up with your autisticness in exchange for the fact that they're getting time-warp sex out of the deal), or

...younger, with the benefit of naive open-mindedness (not to mention that you might actually be in the same place once the 30% rule is applied), who instead of thinking you're a freakish stick-in-the-mud thinks you're mature (and who might be willing to put up with your autisticness in exchange for the fact that you are financially secure while they spent college studying art and pledging I Tappa Kegga and are now just as broke as they were at 18, with a shitty job, no prospects, and student loans to pay off-- not saying that they're using you, just that they've learned to hard way that having a fast car and ab easy smile and being great at parties won't keep food in the fridge and the lights on). Shazaam! Ten-plus year age gap.

"Alas, our dried voices when we whisper together are quiet and meaningless, as wind in dry grass, or rats' feet over broken glass in our dry cellar." --TS Eliot, "The Hollow Men"