Autism Linked to Having Kids 'Too Young' ... Or 'Too Old'

child autism

While the exact cause of autism is still unknown, a new study suggests that the parents' age has an impact -- and no, older mothers aren't the only ones putting kids at risk.

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For this study, funded by the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, researchers examined the health records of more than 5.7 million kids in five different countries -- 30,000 of whom had been diagnosed with autism.

The results? For one, the dad's age was considered the biggest risk factor: Autism rates were 66 percent higher in children born to dads over 50, compared to dads in their twenties.

Meanwhile mom's age mattered, too, but both young and old were pegged here: Autism rates were 15 percent higher among moms having kids in their forties -- and 18 percent higher for teen moms -- than those born to twenty-something mothers.

More from The Stir: Autism From A to Z: Everything a Mom Needs to Know

While moms hear ad nauseum how old age can cause genetic anomalies in eggs and sperm that could be linked to autism, the young mom finding threw me for a loop. Their eggs are just fine, at least comparatively. So what gives? 

Well, researchers theorize that teen moms may not take the best care of themselves ... and that this could cause problems during the pregnancy, increasing their odds of having a child with autism.

Last but not least, the study found that wide gaps between the parents' ages -- at least 10 years -- increased autism odds as well.

All of which just goes to show that autism is a tough nut to crack: Genetic and environmental factors may play a role. All in all, we think this just goes to show that people of all ages -- not just older parents -- should take care of their health for their kids' sakes. No one is off the hook.

What do you think causes autism?

 

Image via Zurijeta/shutterstock

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