Older Moms Linked To Autism: Is There A Right Age To Have Kids?

73773981Previous research found that the risk of autism grew with the age of the father.  A new study published this week now brings the age of the mother into the equation, and begs the question, “Is there a right age to have kids?” 

Findings in this new study in the Autism Journal, while still recognizing the role of paternal age and it’s link to a greater risk of autism spectrum disorders, are now claiming that older moms too are more likely to have a child with autism.  Researchers analyzed over 5 milllion births and concluded that every five-year increase in a mother’s age raised her risk of having a child with autism by 18 percent and that a 40-year-old woman’s risk was 50 percent greater than that of a woman who became a mother in her late 20s.

But…just to add to the ongoing debate about autism this week, even with these staggering statistics, experts, like Janie F. Shelton, a graduate student of epidemiology at UC Davis are saying

“The rise in autism is occurring among children of parents of all ages,w e can’t say that the shifting trend of maternal age exclusively is responsible for the increased rates of autism.

With a steady stream of new data, scientific facts are being more seriously considered along with emotional and logistical considerations influencing a couple’s choice about if and when to have kids. While the question, “Is there a right age to have kids?” usually focused on a mother (and father’s) emotional, financial or physical abilities, it’s broadening to include an evaluation of health risks to both parent and child based on parental age.

Is this good news?  Maybe.    While it certainly undercuts the romantic notion that having a baby should be driven exclusively  by love and a sense of purpose, it reminds parents that there are many factors  to consider when starting a family  and that the responsibility that comes with having kids  starts even before they are born.

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