father and son

There are so many questions surrounding children and autism today. While there is still no one known “cause” of autism, research shows that advanced parental age may impact autism rates. While there is still a lot of research to be done on the subject, there are many people who have questions related to autism odds. 


Here’s what every parent needs to know. 


Autism Studied By Generations 

One of the few things that experts today know about some of the potential causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is advanced maternal age. Studies indicate that older parents are more likely to have a child with autism. However, there is still some debate on the percentage of increase. Numbers vary anywhere from 5 percent to 400 percent. 


While there have been plenty of studies on advanced maternal age and a number of health issues (including autism). Research actually shows that older fathers are especially likely to have children with autism. Keep in mind, there is no clear indication that parents age actually causes autism. It’s important to understand the difference between higher risk and actual causes. 


However, new research also shows that children who have older grandparents, and whose parents were born to older mothers are also more likely to have autism. More research is needed on the topic, but this early research suggests there is a possible transmission of autism risk across generations.  


Autism Parents By Age 

Research into autism and parents really breaks down some of the risks associated with maternal age and children. One study found that the chance of having ASD for children born to parents who are in their thirties is up to 10 percent higher than parents who are 25 to 29 years old. 


The same researchers found that the chance of developing ASD is 50 percent higher when the parents are in their 40s or 50s. In fact, one study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that children born to men over the age of 40 were 5.75 times more likely to have autism than children born to men under the age of 30. This particular study found that there was no link to maternal age and offspring with autism. 


This particular study really opened up the floodgates on research between autism parents and age. While some studies found that maternal age was a factor, others suggested it may only be impacted by the father’s age. With so many different reports and studies, most experts agree that advanced age by both parents can be a contributing factor. 

Here are three of the biggest published studies that reveal insight on advanced age and children with autism. 


  • One study in California that looked at 7.5 million births found that the age of the maternal parents had greater implications for ASD risk than the paternal age.  
  • In a 2016 meta-analysis that looked at 27 different studies on autism and parental age, researchers found that every 10 year increment in age was associated with a 18% to 21% increase in likelihood of autism.
  • A California study that looked at more than 4.9 million births in California found that while older parents in general increased the risk of autism, advanced maternal age instead of paternal age poses a greater risk for developing ASD.


It’s important as a parent or potential parent that you are able to look at the full picture of all the research out there on autism rates and age so that you can have all of the facts on the topic.


The most important thing to remember is that there is still research being done on the topic and still a lot to learn about the correlation between the two.


With such a large pool of data and much of it lacking full definitive answers, there is no way to determine the “odds” of having a child with autism based on age alone, but this information is significant and is helping pave the way for further understanding of ASD in the future.


What Causes Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Ultimately, experts still don’t know exactly what causes ASD, but there are some links or “risk factors” that could make it more likely that children develop ASD. These are some of the most common factors: 


  • Environment 
  • Genetics
  • Biology
  • Difficult birth
  • Infections during pregnancy  


Of course, as previously discussed, advanced parental age can also be a factor. There are a number of reasons why this may happen, but experts still have questions. Here are some of the contributing factors that autism experts are looking into that experts think may be the reason why older parents are more likely to develop autism than younger ones, this includes:


  • Genetic mutations from the cells in sperm being exposed to more toxins over time.
  • Social issues related to older adults reproducing and high-functioning autism
  • Socioeconomic levels, as older parents tend to have more means and be ore likely to get autism evaluations for their children with mild cases
  • Unknown biological causes that still need additional research


While there isn’t much you can do to ensure that you child won’t develop autism, there are resources available that can help your child with autism should you get a formal diagnosis. This includes enrolling children in different behavioral programs such as Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) which is designed to give children with autism the tools they need to overcome different behavioral challenges. 


If you are ready to work with the best ABA therapy provider in New York, New Jersey or Indiana, give us a call at (732) 402-0297. Our dedicated team is ready to help and we will treat you like family.


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