Children of older mothers at high risk of developing autism

Children of older mothers at high risk of developing autism

Autism is a congenital disorder characterized by symptoms, such as repetitive behaviors, difficulties in social interaction, challenges in verbal and nonverbal communication, etc. According to a 2014 data published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in 68 children in the United States suffered from autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Autism is primarily a developmental disability; however, sadly, it is often confused with mental instability or insanity. Thus, it is important to increase awareness about the inherent mental health condition through awareness programs where families and volunteers play an invaluable role.

Association between late pregnancy and autism

Although determining the cause of ASD can be an uphill task, it could be a result of some genetic problem or certain prescription medicines taken during pregnancy. Among the various causes, pregnancy at a relatively older age is also linked with the development of autism in a child. An October 2016 study titled, “Opposite differential risks for autism and schizophrenia based on maternal age, paternal age, and parental age differences,” published in the journal Evolution, Medicine, and Public Health, suggested that children born to older parents are at a high risk for developing autism.

It was also observed that children born to dissimilarly aged parents were at an increased risk for developing autistic and schizophrenic disorders, as compared to children born to parents with similar ages at childbirth. “Our evolutionary interpretations suggest how we can possibly understand recently increased mental disease risks that have no direct medical explanation,” said Professor Jacobus Boomsma, the senior author of the study.

No link between advanced parental age and schizophrenia

While the study pointed the advanced parental age to be linked with autism, it could not find any evidence to show a similar occurrence in case of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder that affects thoughts, feelings, actions and even the memory of the affected person. It also diminishes the capacity of the patient to distinguish between the real and the imaginary world.

Schizophrenia usually stems from several factors such as genetics (heredity), biology (abnormalities in the brain’s chemistry or structure), viral infections and immune disorders, whereas increased parental age may not play a role in the onset of the disease. “In contrast, children of young parents had reduced risks of autism and only children of very young mothers had increased risks of schizophrenia,” added the study.

Seeking professional help

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life but the fear of what the future may hold for the unborn child can cause intense anxiety and stress. Despite knowing that one is doing everything possible to give the baby a healthy start in life, the fear of congenital defects remains an omnipresent concern, which can be reduced only through awareness.

Birth defects can have an adverse effect on the physical and emotional well-being of not only the child but also the family, especially the mother. From the moment one conceives, throughout the nine months of pregnancy, motherhood in its myriad hues can be a wonderful experience, full of hopes and joy. But, knowing about a potential health problem in a child can take a heavy toll on the mother as well as other family members.

However, in case you or a loved one is suffering from any mental condition, consult the Florida Mental Health Helpline for the best mental disorder treatment in Florida that specialize in addressing underlying mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, depression, schizophrenia etc., by using innovative treatment methods. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-846-5588 or chat online with our mental health counselor in Florida for information on rehab facilities in your area.

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