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Higher Maternal Age Increases Risk for Autism

Update Date: Apr 30, 2012 12:10 AM EDT
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There is an increased risk for autism associated with older maternal age, new research found.

Mr. Sven Sandin, of the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden and King's College London, and his colleagues compared the risk of autism in different groups of material age — under 20, 24-29, 30-34, and 35+.

It was found that children of mothers older than 35 years had 30% increased risk for autism and children of mothers under 20 had the lowest risk of developing autism.

The association between advancing maternal age and risk for autism was stronger for male offspring and children diagnosed in more recent years. 

"The study makes us confident there is an increased risk for autism associated with older maternal age, even though we do not know what the mechanism is. It has been observed in high quality studies from different countries, including the US. All studies controlled for paternal age which is an independent risk factor for autism," Sandin said, "This finding adds to the understanding that older age of the parents could have consequences to the health of their children."

The study appears in Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry(JAACAP), the official publication of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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