Sunday, January 16, 2011
A new study shows that the risk of autism may go up when a second child is conceived shortly after the first is born.
Columbia University researchers found that the risk of an
autism diagnosis in a second-born child rose more than three-fold when the child was conceived within 12 months of the birth of the first baby, according to the study which was published online Monday in Pediatrics.
Second-borns conceived between 12 and 23 months after a first child was born had twice the risk of being diagnosed with autism compared to babies conceived a full three years after an older sibling was born.
The findings might be a sign that that something in the uterine environment is changed in the years immediately following pregnancy — women might be deficient in certain nutrients, such as folate, for example.
The researcher, as well as outside experts, cautioned that parents should not be too alarmed by the new findings. “At this point we aren’t able to say from this research that delaying a second pregnancy would have an effect on autism risk,” said Cheslack-Postava, a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia.
While the increased three-fold risk for second-borns may sound high at first, parents need to remember that the overall risk of autism is low, said Dr. Rita Cantor, a professor of human genetics at the David Geffen School of
Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“There are a lot of people who have closely spaced pregnancies who don’t go on to have children with autism,” Cantor said.