Some families want to have their babies close in age so they can grow up together. But according to a new study, having babies too close together could increase the risk of autism.
Having Babies Close in Age: Is It a Risk Factor for Autism?
According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, having babies close together in time may increase the risk of autism. Researchers made this surprising finding after looking at birth records of more than 660,000 kids born in California over a ten year period.
Researchers found that moms who conceived a baby within a year of their previous birth were three times more likely to have a child diagnosed with autism than parents who waited three years before conceiving again after giving birth. This was true even after researchers controlled for other factors that could affect the risk of autism.
Risk of Autism: The Numbers Are Rising
Autism was once believed to be an uncommon disorder, but the number of kids diagnosed with this condition is rising. It’s not clear whether this is a product of better diagnosis or whether it’s due to an increasing incidence of the disease – but the figures are alarming to parents and doctors.
Could having babies close together account for the rise in autism cases? More parents are having babies close in age, because they’re starting families later in life, which places more pressure on them to complete their families quickly. Some people have tried to blame the increase on vaccines, but recent studies fail to show an association between vaccines and autism.
Why would having babies close together increase the risk of autism? It’s too early to say whether this is a true cause an effect relationship. If further studies find an association between the two, researchers speculate that nutrition and vitamin depletion of compounds such as iron and folate could play a role. A woman may enter a second pregnancy before she’s had time to optimize her nutritional status.
They also question whether the stress of going through two pregnancies close together could increase the risk of autism. It also may be that parents are more aware of autism symptoms when they have two kids close in age and one develops differently from the other.
The Bottom Line?
It’s too early to say whether parents should reconsider when they conceive based on this data, but this study raises some interesting questions about having babies close together and the effects it could have. Stay tuned for more research.
References: Suntimes.com. “Having Babies Close Together Could Raise Risk for Autism”