Mums who fall pregnant shortly after giving birth are 50% more likely to have an autistic child, a new study published in the journal Autism Research has revealed.
Children who are conceived between 18 months and five years after a previous birth are less like to be diagnosed with the developmental condition.
According to The Sun, the reason for the link is that women may not be able to replenish their body with the nutrients a foetus requires if they don’t leave enough time between pregnancies.
Researchers from the Centre for Disease and Control Prevention in the US analysed data about 356 children with autism spectrum disorder and 524 without and found that children who were conceived very soon after an elder sibling was born were twice as likely to be severely autistic than those conceived within the 18 months to five year time frame.
But it isn’t just mums who fall pregnant soon after birth who have an increased risk of their child being born autistic. The research also revealed that a large gap between pregnancies can also increase the risk factor.
The study found that babies conceived a long time after a sibling were 1.8 times more likely to be born severely autistic.
Experts put this down to the fact that a long gap between pregnancies may indicate underlying fertility issues, which is an established risk factor for the condition.
Commenting on the findings, study leader Dr Laura Schieve of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told MedicalXpress: “These findings support existing guidelines on pregnancy spacing and further highlight the association between autism and pregnancy health.”
“Couples thinking about getting pregnant should discuss pregnancy planning with a trusted doctor or healthcare provider.”
According to the NHS, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions, including Asperger syndrome that affects a person’s social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
It’s estimated that about one in every 100 people in the UK has ASD and more boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.
Although there is no ‘cure’ for ASD, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are available to help children and parents diagnosed with the condition.
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