​​Researchers Blame Autism on Moms Who Wait to Have Kids

pregnant woman holding bellyAs if women trying to have babies in their mid-30s and beyond weren't already barraged by finger-wagging about risks and tests to the moon, now there's a new study fear-mongering "older moms" that their age may raise their child's risk of autism. Researchers from the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia and Karolinska Institute in Sweden created a new autism model that predicts older parents are more likely to have a child who develops an autism spectrum disorder than younger parents. Apparently, the model shows that autism risk grows steadily with fathers’ increasing age, but accelerates with mothers’ age after 30.

Yep, 30! And here we were thinking all the risks that came with "advanced maternal age" weren't in play 'til 35 ...

Well, as damning as it all sounds, women who fit the study's description shouldn't panic.


The senior author of the study, Brian K. Lee, Ph.D, explained that what they found only serves to "point to a need to continue investigating underlying mechanisms of ASD that may be influenced by a mother’s age, even though much recent discussion has focused on fathers’ and even grandfathers’ ages." Also, the researchers point out that "multiple mechanisms could be in play" to account for the different patterns of risk, including environmental risk factors occurring in women after age 30.

In other words, since science has been finger-pointing at dads, it's time to scrutinize moms. And it's not even necessarily about their age alone. It could be stress, toxins, etc. Who knows? The bottom line is that this is not significant evidence that women who are 30 or older should live in fear that they may be putting their baby at risk for ASD or, even worse, that they need to throw in the towel on babymaking because they're over the hill. Please!

Also, all of this said, Lee notes that couples' family planning shouldn't change drastically by any means because overall risk remains low, elaborating that "the absolute risk of having a child with ASD is still approximately one in 100 in the overall sample, and less than two in 100 even for mothers up to age 45."

Yep, sounds like a sigh of relief is in order.

What do you make of this study? Does being concerned about ASD or other risks affect at what age you had/have your children?

Image via John Hope/Flickr

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