Older Men Having Children the Cause of Autism?

A new study released recently by researchers in Iceland found that older men are at a higher risk for having a child diagnosed with autism. The rate of autism in children in the United States has been steadily climbing and is now at an estimated 1 in 88 (up from 1 in 110 just a few years ago).

The reason for increased risk.

Each year a man ages it is believed that his sperm cells develope up to two new mutations. While most of these mutations are harmless and cause no measurable changes in a child, there is a chance that one will occur on an important gene. Thus, the older a man is, the more mutations will be present, and the likelihood of it causing problems increases drastically.

Not the cause of the rise in the autism ratio

According to the study (which included 78 families, 44 children with autism and 21 with schizophrenia), genetic mutations on sperm cells on accounts for less than one percent of all non-hereditary cases of autism. Daniel Smith, Phd. (one of the researchers  states that “This study should not be used as guidance for parents. Many cases of autism are from parents in their 20’s.”


While men conceiving children at an older age will pass on a greater number of mutations, it is not proven that this greatly increases the risk for autism. There are many things that are believed to place children at a higher risk for being born with autism. For more information see our articles at:

Do birthing conditions cause autism?

Maternal factors that increase the risk for autism

Can prenatal vitamins eliminate the risk for autism?

Thank you for reading, and remember to sign up for our email newsletter or RSS feed to stay up to date on all the latest in autism research.

Photo by Argonne National Laboratory.


Do Brains of Children with Autism Develop More Slowly?

A study conducted and analyzed by UCLA produced some solid findings on the development of the brain in children with autism. They took scans of the brains at two different periods of development. Findings were published in Human Brain Mapping. Most cases of autism are diagnosed during the pre-toddler to toddler years (usually around the age of three).
Normal brain activity during adolescence is the creation of new connections (aka white matter) and purging of unused connections (aka gray matter). This process helps the brain function in the most efficient manner possible.
“Because the brain of a child with autism develops more slowly during this critical period of life [adolescence], these children may have an especially difficult time struggling to establish personal identity, develop social interactions and refine emotional skills.” Xua Hua, Ph. D.
The results of these findings will possibly be used in a couple of ways:

  • First, they help explain some of the symptoms displayed by those with autism.
  • Secondly, this information can be used to hopefully develop more improved treatment options.

The researchers comfirmed that there was slower growth in the areas of the brain responsible for social skills, language, and repetitive behavior. On top of slower growth, there were a couple areas that were not pruned properly:

  • The Putamen-the area responsible for learning new information.
  • Anterior Cingulate-involved in cognition and emotional behavior.

As can be seen in the picture at the bottom of this post, the brain of a child with autism is not purged of older cells properly, thus creating a slower connection (due to the greater distance between) the new cells that are forming. This research is important for several reasons:

  • It provides greater insight into the workings of the brain in a child with autism.
  • In turn, that allows professionals to determine best practices when teaching a child with autism new information or skills.
  • Lastly, this could aid in the process of creating a future treatment/cure if not a prevention mechanism.

Once again, we are one step closer to understanding the brain of a child with autism. Thanks for reading and have a great day!


What Facial Features are Associated With Autism?

We have seen that larger brains have been observed in children with autism, now a study by the University of Missouri concludes that children with autism do share some of the same facial features. The differences are subtle though, and looking at a crowd you would be hard pressed to pick out the children with autism by appearance alone (unlike the very distinct features of a child with down syndrome for example). They study chose to focus on the ages of 8-12 (this age group was selected since they have completed between 90-95% of head growth). Researchers then measured the distance between 17 points on the face to see if children with autism shared any facial features.

A few things that were noticed in boys with autism after the data had been collected and analyzed:

  • Wider eyes. Not only were the actual eye sockets slightly larger, but the distance between pupils was greater as well.
  • A wider mouth area, as well as the divot on the upper lip was wider.
  • A broad upper face area, but a shorter middle region of the face with a flattened nasal bridge.

Most of these differences are so minor that you would not be able to distinguish them just by looking at a group of children.  However, they become very distinct once measured mathematically.  This type of research is important for several reasons:

  • We know that the facial features develop during the middle of the first trimester (click for information on maternal risk factors). Thus scientist can now look at genetic/environmental factors at that time of development in the fetus.
  • This is more fuel for the fire to show that autism is probably present before birth-once again deflating the vaccine/cause argument that for some reason still rages on.
  • Since we know what time the face develops and which specific genes are responsible, this could be another milemarker in the development of a treatment/prevention.
Every piece of the puzzle that we can decode takes us one step closer to treatment and prevention.  There are so many unknowns concerning the cause of autism, when we make discoveries such as this it narrows that focus just a little more.  It allows us to hopefully someday develop a concrete test to determine a mother’s predisposition to having a child diagnosed with autism, and if that risk is high maybe have a treatment in place to reduce or eliminate that risk.
One of the best books we have came across concerning the signs of autism is: Could It Be Autism?: A Parent’s Guide to the First Signs and Next Steps. It is available on Amazon for instant download, or you can get a copy shipped to your address. (Note, should you chose to buy we will make a small commission.)
Don’t forget to sign up for our email updates, or your RSS reader of choice so that we can keep you informed on all the latest concerning the autism spectrum. Thanks for reading and have a great day!


Do Birthing Conditions Cause Autism?

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed. Have a question? Something you would like to see discussed? Email us at crystal@eautismsigns.com and let us know. We read each and every email.  

While birthing conditions do not cause autism, new studies indicate that certain events during the birthing process may increase the risk of a child developing autism. The medical journal Pediatrics recently published a study that stated certain complications during the birthing process can put children at a greater risk of developing autism. Using data from over 60 studies conducted previously, researchers from Brown and Harvard looked at birth and post birth risk factors attributed to certain events. Their main conclusion was that whenever the oxygen supply was interrupted during the birthing process, a greater risk for developing autism was present.

Some of the data that the researchers had looked at from previous studies were things such as:

  • time of year the child was born (those born in the summer where at a higher risk)
  • whether the birth was Cesarian or breech
  • if the labor was prolonged, early, or induced
  • if the child had low Apgar scores
  • and if the child had a low birth weight

The conclusion was that abnormal brain development seemed to be worse whenever adequate blood flow was cut off from the brain.
While the exact cause of autism is still unknown, research is pointing to a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.

Here are a few of the things that we can look out for when trying to determine if autism signs are present:

  • poor eye contact
  • lack of interest in social interactions
  • stacking or lining up toys
  • being obsessive over certain toys
  • the child not answering when their name is called
  • or any regression in development.

While these signs do not mean that your child has autism, if you notice any of these indicators have your child screened at the earliest opportunity. You know your little one better than anybody else on this planet-if you suspect you are seeing autism signs, do not hesitate. With early intervention there is great hope for a good prognosis.Thanks for reading and have a great day. Here are a few links for you to continue your research should you choose:


Can Prenatal Vitamins Eliminate Autism Risk?

We always provide the most relevant information on autism signs and the latest news in the autism community. In order for you to have the latest information hot off the press subscribe to our Autism Signs by Email, or by RSS Feed. Have a question? Something you would like to see discussed? Email us at crystal@eautismsigns.com and let us know. We read each and every email.

Photo by colindunn

The idea that proper nutrition before and during a pregnancy is important is nothing new to any of us. However, a study conducted by University of California Davis School of Medicine shows that prenatal vitamins are important in reducing the risk of having a child diagnosed with autism. While the prenatal vitamins will not eliminate the risk of autism, they have the potential to cut the chances in half according to this study.

It was found that women who did not take prenatal vitamins three months prior to conception and during the first month of pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with autism. Also, a woman with a genetic predisposition to autism that did not take the vitamin supplements were found to be SEVEN times more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism.

Now, the flip side of the coin. This is good news (anytime we find a way to reduce the risk of autism is wonderful), but we do not live in a perfect world. Not all pregnancies are planned-I would surmise that most are not. Yet, the vitamin that was shown to be most effective in this study was folate. Folate is found in almost all daily vitamins for women. While prenatal vitamins may not be taken, the risk could still be lowered as long as a vitamin regime is followed at all times.

An abstract of the study can be found here.

As always, we thank you for the time you have spent reading here.  If you have any questions, concerns, comments-feel free to email us at crystal@eautismsigns.com.  Thanks for reading, have a great day!

Do you think an awareness campaign should be implemented for this information?  Do you believe most women are already on a daily vitamin?  We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue!