Closely Spaced Pregnancies Increase Risk for Autism

In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that one in roughly 111 children from certain testing sites across America have a form of autism. This includes classic autism, pervasive development disorder and Asperger’s syndrome. Just one year later, researchers showed that one in every 91 American children is on the autism spectrum. This developmental disorder is growing at such a rapid pace that medical personnel are shocked, and studies have proven that closely spaced pregnancies have played a part in this phenomenon.

In 1992, the director of the Lazarsfeld Center for Social Sciences at Columbia University put a team of researches together to test his theory that closely spaced pregnancies put the second child at risk for a developmental disorder. The team’s findings showed that out of 662,000 sibling pairs born within three years of one another in the state of California, none of the firstborns were diagnosed with an autistic disorder, but 3,137 of their younger siblings were. Of this number, 22 sibling pairs were born within one year of one another, showing that the closer the births are, the higher the risk of autism.

Researchers and medical professionals don’t know exactly why a child born within three years of his or her older sibling faces a greater risk for autism. Possibly the most logical explanation for this is that the mother’s body hasn’t had adequate time to reproduce all the nutrients needed to have another healthy baby. But the same study in California showed that more often than not, a closely spaced pregnancy can result in a healthy baby. Therefore, other inherent factors – perhaps also with the mother – must be figured in too.

Other factors that increase risks of autism

The increase of children born with autism isn’t just from closely spaced pregnancies. It comes from other factors as well, one being parental age. It’s not surprising news that the older a mother is during pregnancy, the more health risks the child faces. Down syndrome, low birth weight and other complications are linked to a woman’s age during pregnancy. Autism risks, however, are linked both to the mother and father’s ages if they are over the age of 40. Over the last two decades, people have begun to put off pregnancy, and researchers believe that this is a contributing factor to the dramatic increase in autism.

Preterm-birth babies are also at an increased risk for having a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum. Preterm, or premature, births are defined as fewer than 33 weeks in the womb. Because the infant’s brain develops differently outside of the womb, mothers who give birth before 33 weeks of pregnancy increase their risk of seeing cognitive problems in later childhood. Developmental disorders associated with autism are largely social, and they inhibit the child’s ability to maintain relationships in different ways.

Proactive steps for dealing with autism

Looking out for the signs of autism is important, especially if you had a premature birth, a pregnancy at a later age or your baby had a low birth weight. One thing that could send up a red flag is if your baby gives little to no joyful expressions, especially when interacting with others. If your child doesn’t respond to his or her name, follow directions or even appear to hear you at times, you should have him evaluated by a medical professional.

If your child is diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum, it’s important to identify him with a medical ID bracelet. Because of the non-engaging behavior associated with autism, it’s likely that your child will try to wander away at times. A medical ID bracelet could save his life. Have the child’s pertinent medical history, medications or simply a home address and phone number engraved on the medical ID bracelet to ensure his safety. American Medical ID has a wide selection of medical ID bracelets to choose from. Find one that fits your child’s needs today!

About Shannon Thiery

As American Medical ID's Marketing Specialist, Shannon manages company social media channels and print marketing. Shannon is a Texas Native and attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where she majored in Marketing. She enjoys traveling the world, going to the lake with her family and spending time with her adorable Shih Tzu, Teddy!

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