Recent research by the University of Texas at Dallas found that older fathers have a link to autism. This implies that somewhere along the way, as we age and our kids are born later in life, there is an increased chance for them to be on the spectrum. But is it just because they’re more exposed or could something else be going on?
The “who carries the autism gene mother or father” is a question that has been asked before. There are some theories that say that it is passed on from parents to children, but there are other theories that say it is not passed on at all.
The older a mother and father are when they have a kid, the higher the chance of autism, according to research. It’s unclear why this is or how much a parent’s age effects their child’s risk of autism.
Older Fathers & Autism Risk
Children born to older dads are more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than children born to younger fathers, according to a research published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry in 2011.
A kid born with autism to a father in his 40s had a 28 percent greater probability of being diagnosed than a child born with ASD to a guy in his 30s. The odds of fathering a kid with ASD are as high as 66 percent for males in their 50s.
Researchers hypothesized that older men’s sperm has a larger number of mutations, which may be passed down to their offspring. This might point to the nature of the link between advanced paternal age and the onset of ASD in their children. As males become older, it’s possible that mutations will become more common.
Throughout one’s life, the cells that make up sperm multiply themselves. The replicated cells (which are themselves copies of cells) eventually produce mistakes over many decades. This is analogous to the quality of a photocopy deteriorating with each subsequent copy.
Genetic Marking & Vulnerabilities
Another hypothesis is that elderly men’s genes are not properly marked. This is the procedure for determining which parent a gene originates from. The status of a gene is also determined by its marking (like the gene that determines eye color). Mistakes in the genetic marking process may cause developmental issues in their progeny. These mistakes might be caused by mutations in an older man’s sperm composition.
Even if a guy takes excellent care of himself physically, with exercise and a healthy lifestyle, his sperm will age physiologically. The prevailing view among researchers is that the older a father is, the greater the likelihood that his children would have ASD. Multiple studies in many nations have shown a significant frequency of autism spectrum disorder development in children with older dads.
The age ranges of the males varied across research, making it impossible to say when the odds of fathering an autistic kid rise for men. Researchers have discovered that, rather of arriving abruptly at a specific age, these risks rise consistently over time (5 percent to 10% more probable in the mid-40s, and then increasing for every decade afterwards).
Maternal Age Advancement
When it comes to women, research shows that pregnancy becomes riskier as a mother-to-be gets older. Maternal Age Advancement has been linked to developmental disorders in offspring, such as Down syndrome. It also affects the likelihood that autism will develop.
According to a study published in Autism Research, moms over the age of 40 had a 51 percent higher chance of delivering an autistic child than mothers who gave birth between the ages of 21 and 29. Moms over the age of 40 had a 77 percent greater chance of having an autistic child than mothers under the age of 25.
Past research strongly suggests that both maternal and paternal ages independently connect with the risk of autism in a child. While advanced paternal age can affect the development of autism, Maternal Age Advancement is the bigger risk.
APGAR Scores & Awareness
Women above the age of 35 are more likely to have protracted labors, early births, or breech births (when the baby comes out feet first, instead of head first).
Furthermore, giving birth beyond the age of 35 may result in newborns with poor APGAR scores, which is a test used to detect the baby’s heart rate, muscle tone, and other vital indicators in order to identify whether the baby need further medical or emergency treatment. One minute after delivery, and again five minutes later, the APGAR test is performed.
Researchers have also discovered that older parents may be more conscious of their children’s growth as a result of having more children earlier in life. Similarly, older parents are more well-informed, and as a group, they are more aware of autism and developmental disability screening (or the other risks of having children in their 30s and beyond). As a result, if parents discover their kid is not growing as anticipated, they may be more inclined to seek medical help. Women over 30 have less access to diagnostic and therapeutic services for their children as a result of their education and socioeconomic position.
Environmental Factors & Starting a Family
Environmental risk factors associated in the development of autism are still being investigated. And these research are often focused on characteristics related to the parents’ age. For example, the older a woman is when she gives birth, the more likely she has been exposed to environmental or societal variables for a longer period of time than a woman who gives birth at a younger age, and these factors may raise the risk of ASD in later-life births.
Maternal autoimmunity, according to regional research, is a disorder in which some mothers produce antibodies as a result of exposure to environmental toxins. As a woman matures, her antibodies grow in quantity, passing to the baby and influencing early brain development.
Regardless of the explanations, the link between maternal age and autism is complex. Most experts believe that having children at any age should not be a barrier for women.
People should start families “whenever it’s good for them,” according to one expert, and parents should concentrate on being as healthy as possible. Environmental pollution should be avoided as a matter of course, not as a precautionary measure in the event of the birth of an autistic kid. Some specialists, on the other hand, merely advise that older parents be aware of the hazards associated with having children. This discusses how the risk of autism spectrum condition rises as maternal and/or paternal age increases.
Factors that cross generations
Additional study looked at the grandparents’ ages when their children were born. “Potential transgenerational risk for autistic spectrum condition,” according to the researchers. This study looks at how grandparental age at the time of the parents’ birth may influence the grandchild’s future risk of autism.
As a result, young grandparents are passing on a level of danger to their grandchildren. This might have an impact on their grandchildren’s odds of acquiring autism. Grandparents who did not have access to healthy nourishment may have a negative influence on their children’s biology. As these youngsters get older, their damaged biology may produce developmental problems in their offspring.
A model like this adds to the genetic and environmental elements that are thought to have a role in autism. However, like with much studies in this field, large-scale testing remains a challenge.
Grandparents & the Effect on Autism
The possibility that a child’s autism is linked to health conditions experienced by their grandparents has its own set of difficulties. Some parents may feel powerless since they had no influence over the circumstances that led to their child’s ASD.
Women in the United States are waiting longer to have children, yet they are more likely to have children than women in the previous decade. Given that more individuals throughout the globe are deferring childbearing, there is a growing interest, as well as an emotional commitment, in understanding how the age and health of parents — and grandparents — impact autism diagnosis.
The “autism risk factors” is a question that has been asked for a long time. The results of the study show that autism can be affected by a mother’s or father’s age.
- is autism genetic
- signs of autism during pregnancy
- how to prevent having a child with autism
- causes of autism
- autism symptoms
Janice is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Special Education. She also holds a Master of Science in Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) from Queen’s University, Belfast. She has worked with and case managed children and youth with autism and other intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in home and residential setting since 2013.