Can Age-Related Issues Increase the Chances of Autism?

By April 28, 2014Archives

Though autism remains, for the most part, a mystery to the scientific community, a few key facts have been discovered over the years. Though we don’t yet understand the important details of autism, we do have clues that reveal possible risks and interesting links that perhaps increase its prevalence. One of the newest comes from a research study out of Sweden.

Grandpa Plays a Role
Published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, a Swedish study discovered a possible link between the age of a grandfather and autism in his grandchildren. The study specifically found that men who fathered children at the age of 50 or older were twice as likely to end up having an autistic grandchild.
Emma Frans led the study, alongside her Swedish colleagues. They began looking at the number of births in Sweden going all the way back to 1932. Out of the thousands of births they looked at, they were able to pinpoint important information about the age of grandfathers as they related to 6,000 autism cases. In contrast, the control group was made up of 31,000 families who had no presence of autism.

The Results
After conducting an enormous amount of research, Frans and her team found that men who had a daughter at age 50 or more were 1.79 times more likely to have an autistic grandchild down the road. In addition, men who had a son at age 50 or older were 1.67 times more likely to have an autistic grandchild. Interestingly enough, that number didn’t seem to change whether the grandfather was from either the mother’s side or the father’s side of the family.

Linking Age to Autism
Despite the fact that age seems to play a large role in the incidence of autism, researchers involved with the Swedish study found that the increase in autism was not affected by the age of an autistic child’s own parents. However, several other studies in the past have linked autism with older parental age. The potential link seems to be much higher for older fathers, however.

Older Adults and Autism
While autism may not be a disease classically associated with seniors, experts are now beginning to see potential “genetic and age-related causes.”

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