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.”

Conclusion

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?

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Photo by Argonne National Laboratory.

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