University of Wisconsin logoAs a University of Wisconsin alumna, I receive a quarterly publication, On Wisconsin. In the Spring 2009 issue, an article caught my attention: “Age, Order, and Autism.” Is there a link between autism and older parents as well as birth order? I have given birth to two healthy sons, but I often worry about the children they might have, my grandchildren, particularly since they both live in California. California seems to have a higher incidence of autism, although one theory is that it’s because of the way the data are collected.

Bascom Hall

Bascom Hall

What is autism? Wikipedia defines it as a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. The autism spectrum disorders (ASD) also include related conditions such as Asperger syndrome that have milder signs and symptoms.

The article cited a study led by University of Wisconsin pediatrics and population health sciences professor, Maureen Durkin. The study looked at 253,347 children born in 1994. They found that 1,251 showed signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), a broad group of social and communication impairments. Less that .5% were affected, but the following patterns emerged:

  • The children of fathers over 40 years of age were 60% more likely to show symptoms than those of younger fathers.
  • The children of mothers over 35 were 40% more likely than those of younger mothers.
  • First born children were 30% more likely than second borns and 70% more than those born third or later.
  • First born of two older parents were three times more likely to than those third born or later to mothers 20 to 34 and fathers under 40.

In another study cited in the Washington Post, “Children of fathers who were 15 to 29 years of age had a risk of about six in 10,000 of developing autism. Children of fathers in their thirties had a risk of nine in 10,000. Children of fathers in their forties had a risk of 32 in 10,000, and children of fathers who were older than 50 had a risk of 52 in 10,000.”

No study is conclusive, but starting this year, there is a longitudinal study of 100,000 children. This National Children’s Study will follow the children from birth to 21 to examine environmental influences on health and development. This probably won’t help my grandchildren, but should hopefully help a future generation.

At the moment, many believe that the cause may be a toxicity from several possible sources. It may be for that reason that products that remove toxicity have helped some patients. For more information, click here.

Click Here to share this page with your friends, website visitors, ezine readers, social followers and other online contacts.