New Study

I love health related studies, it’s one of my particular interests.  I saw this one yesterday and the implications fascinate me:

Link Between Advanced Maternal Age and Autism

There’s such heated debate about whether the increase in autism prevalence numbers signal a true epidemic or just better awareness and diagnosis.  It seems to me the answer doesn’t have to be one or the other, that it’s probably a little of both.  Then the conversation turns to what might be causing the increase, generally morphing into a vaccines/toxins debate.  I lose interest at this point because the science just doesn’t point to vaccines/mercury/toxins. 

What if this is the answer to the epidemic portion of the conversation?  Women are generally waiting longer than ever to start their family, preferring to see to their education first and establish themselves in their career.  Does the timing of the increase in autism prevalence correlate to more women waiting to start families, I wonder?  This possibility fascinates me! 

 Personally, I don’t see it as laying blame on the mothers again like the old refrigerator mother theory.  I see it more along the lines of downs syndrome information.  It’s common knowledge that as maternal age increases, chances of a baby with downs syndrome increases.  That doesn’t stop women from having babies later in life, but it does inform their decision.  For me, the information makes me feel better.  It reassures me that I didn’t do anything to G, feed anything to G, or expose G to something that affected his brain development.  It was simply a matter of timing.  I firmly believe I wouldn’t have been as good a mother if I had decided to have children earlier – my life was a bit chaotic in early adulthood.  I can better accept that this is just how it is.  With other theories, I can’t help but wonder if  G might be different.  (although I really like him as he is)  With this theory, I know for a fact that if I had started my family earlier, I wouldn’ t have G in my life.  And that is simply unacceptable.


I laughed so hard today!  I was talking about this study with DH and said even if we had known this information before we started our family, I wouldn’t have wanted to have kids any earlier than we did.  DH responded, “Oh hell no – if we would have had kids younger, they’d be way more screwed up than just having a little autism!”

Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have an autistic daughter. She’s high functioning, but nonetheless, she’s autistic. I had her when I was 21. I wish this study would have been done on more than just a small number of women. I think they should have done it more widespread. I might take it more seriously. I’m sure there is some truth to the age thing, but for me, it is far from true. I couldn’t possibly have kids any younger!

  2. “I wish this study would have been done on more than just a small number of women. I think they should have done it more widespread”

    According to the article, they used all births in california from 1990-1999, that’s a pretty large study! Don’t forget that statistically true doesn’t mean universally true, there will always be younger women who give birth to children with autism and older women who give birth to neurotypical children.

    Thanks for your comment, these issues are always interesting!

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