are old parents more likely to give birth to autistic kids?

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petitesouris
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06 May 2010, 10:28 am

i remember reading once that if one of the child's parents is older and has older genetic material, than his or her risk of having brain disorders is higher.

around 50 years ago (not that i was alive then) most people had kids when they were about in their twenties, yet, since people are more educated and work more in this day and age, many parents have kids when they are in their thirties.

correct me if i am wrong, but autism is found more in industrialized countries, where people have children at later ages than in developing countries.

or maybe that is a silly conclusion, since there are most likely less stats on health in developing countries



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06 May 2010, 10:43 am

I find that weird. I'm autistic and my mom gave birth to me when she was in her early 20s.



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06 May 2010, 10:50 am

Well, I was born when my mum was 22, quite nearly 23. Little bro was born when she was 41, and we both show very strong signs of AS. So take that data as you will.


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06 May 2010, 10:52 am

Dr. Kanner himself noticed this when he was doing the original research on autism. Unfortunately he (or others reacting to his research) jumped to the conclusion that only cold, un-maternal mothers would wait until their mid-30's to have kids and that this coldness was the source of the autism. That was the birth of the "Refrigerator Mother" theory.

Now it is very common for women to wait till mid-30's. And also the autism rate has risen (or is perceived to have risen, could always be a "more diagnosis" bias). Are these two things connected? Researchers are starting to look into this. Clearly there won't be any sort of 1:1 correspondence whereby you will have an autistic child if >35 and you won't if <30. (This has been brought up before and many posters had young mothers). But there could be a statistically significant skew towards age that would still allow for young mothers with autistic children and old mothers without.

At any rate, it's a lot more plausible than vaccines.



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06 May 2010, 12:19 pm

My parents were in their twenties when they had me. I always thought women who had children in their forties were more at risk for having a child with downs syndrome?



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06 May 2010, 12:42 pm

My mum had me, when she was 27.


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Janissy
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06 May 2010, 12:46 pm

Todesking wrote:
My parents were in their twenties when they had me. I always thought women who had children in their forties were more at risk for having a child with downs syndrome?


They are. Women who get pregnant >35 are more at risk for all sorts of things. This (if it is true) would just be one more.

It might be that certain gene combinations are less likely to stay "quiet" in an older prehnant woman. It may be that nerdier women are more likely to have children older (this might be what Dr. Kanner actually observed). It might be an enviromental trigger for certain genes that women's eggs will just be exposed to more the longer they hang around. It might be not true at all and there is no skew to older mothers once the figures are looked at.



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06 May 2010, 12:48 pm

I also read that with an older parent the chances of autism are higher. A lot of responses seem to indicate that their young parent's birth of an autistic child disproves that theory, but that isn't how statistics work. Whether or not though that older parents = higher chance of autism, I can't say for certain.

My mother's father was 20 years older than her mother. About in his 50s when my mother was born. She doesn't have a diagnosis of AS, but she has a lot of the same issues as me, including comorbid conditions that I don't have.

Of course, while the above supports the statistic it by no means proves it. I'd like to know where the autism started in my family though, and that seems a good starting point at least.


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06 May 2010, 12:53 pm

My mom was 38 when she had me. My dad was 44. So that makes sense.


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petitesouris
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06 May 2010, 1:09 pm

even if no one can force people not to have kids past 35, it is kind of concerning that the increasing number of people who have kids when they are 40, are giving birth to less healthy generations.



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06 May 2010, 1:19 pm

There have been multiple studies done on the subject and the results I've seen have been about evenly mixed. One concludes there is a higher risk with advanced age, another that that there is not, so I'd conclude from their conclusions that while age (particularly that of the mother) may increase risk for some health problems, the risk of having a child with Autism is no greater or worse than at any other age.

I, too was one of those Boomers whose folks started having kids in their mid 20s (me) - one brother a few years later who died of a congenital heart defect, then a sister 9 years later who's as NT as they come. Sis had her three in her 20s and 30s and two are NT, the other one PDD-NOS with dyslexia - and she (the PDD-NOS) is one of a set of twins - her twin brother is an academic golden boy and football jock. Go figure.

One fem cousin DXd with AS, born 2nd of 4, when her mom was late 20s.

It's a crap shoot at any age. People worry way too much about their 'different' kids being defective. I'd much rather have an Autistic child than a neurotypical one who grows up to be an obnoxious bully.



petitesouris
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06 May 2010, 1:39 pm

Willard wrote:
I, too was one of those Boomers whose folks started having kids in their mid 20s (me) - one brother a few years later who died of a congenital heart defect, then a sister 9 years later who's as NT as they come.


sorry to hear about your brother. was this recent?

i know what you mean by how parents worry too much about their children being different, but having children when one is old results in a variety of disorders, not just autism. also, there may even be some of us who would prefer to go back in time and change the fact that we were born with an asd.



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06 May 2010, 1:48 pm

There are potential risks to having children young, too. Less emotional maturity, less stability. My mom was the classic single mom on welfare when my sister and I were small and she was pretty messed up. She was in a much better place financially and emotionally by the time we were teenagers.

My husband and I wanted to have a baby years before we were able to pull it off, and there may have been some benefits to having had to wait, not that I would wish it on anyone. I doubt having had him sooner would have made any difference in my son's autism, which is clearly largely genetic.


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06 May 2010, 2:04 pm

I had my kids a little on the late side, in my mid to late thirties. I think that the research at Duke explains their Asperger's better. On my side of the family there are a lot of high achieving people. My mom's an art historian, my bio-dad's a doctor. My aunts, uncles and cousins are engineers, scientists, doctors and so on. My sister is a social worker. My maternal grandmother was a child prodigy and would today be considered profoundly gifted. My ex husband, and the father of my three children, has a lot of mental illness in his family. There is both bi-polar and schizophrenia. He has BPD himself. Apparently that combination of traits in a family leads to a high incidence of Asperger's Syndrome.



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06 May 2010, 2:09 pm

Biologically women are built to give birth from about 18 until their mid 20's.
Having kids at a later age does mean more of a risk of genetic defects including neurological disorders, it isn't only old mothers though because my mum was 24 when she had me and look how I turned out :roll:


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Willard
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06 May 2010, 2:24 pm

petitesouris wrote:
sorry to hear about your brother. was this recent?


No, this was many years ago - I was 4yo at the time, and he only lived a couple of hours. Today, the technology probably exists to have fixed the damage to his heart, but this was 1963 and that kind of intricate surgery on a newborn just wasn't possible.