More Problems Are Now "Autism"
The marked increase in U.S. autism diagnoses that began to show up around 1996, and which some have blamed on childhood vaccination, may in fact be based not on an increase in autism per se, but on an increase in other, similar intellectual disabilities that are now classified as autism by those making the diagnosis. A Penn State study of eleven years of special-ed enrollment statistics that were compiled on over 6,000,000 children per year found that the rise in autism diagnoses over that time was almost entirely balanced off by a decrease in diagnoses of other autism-like conditions. The report concluded that simple reclassification could have produced two-thirds of the rise in autism cases overall, and a striking 97 percent of those involving older children.
2-5 Years Apart Is Safest
A new study indicates that "spacing pregnancies" between two and five years apart may lower each child’s risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Previous research has linked closely-spaced pregnancies to higher autism rates, but a new Columbia University study has found the same to be true when pregnancies are widely separated in time. Based on health records of over 7,300 children, researchers determined that children born between two and five years apart were in the safest range, while those conceived less than one year after a sibling were 50 percent more likely to be autistic, those conceived after more than five years were 30 percent more likely, and those conceived after more than ten years were 40 percent more likely.
Linked to Male Child Autism
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most frequently prescribed drugs for depression and anxiety thanks to their high success rate and general safety, but this may not hold for expectant mothers. A new study by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the MIND Institute at U.C. Davis has found that there is a distinct association between prenatal use of SSRIs and developmental problems in the male offspring. Specifically, boys diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or some other developmental drawback from the ages of two five were three times as likely to have been exposed to SSRIs in the form of their mother's medication while in utero. Researchers urged women and doctors to "balance the risks versus the benefits of taking these medications."
Also Low Thyroid Levels
A study of over 4,000 Dutch mothers has found that women with very low levels of the thyroid hormone thyroxine are four times as likely to have an autistic child. A second study, of 625,000 U.S. births, determined that women who have their labor induced are 13 percent more likely to bear an autistic child, while those whose labor is speeded up artificially are 16 percent more likely. But doctors note that labor is induced to reduce stress to the baby, and that distressed babies are significantly more prone to autism, at 27 percent, than those born from induced labor. Prior studies have found higher autism rates for babies born to older parents, born less than a year after an older sibling, or born to women who are diabetic, obese, have high blood pressure or low folic acid levels.
Space Three Years Apart
The risk of having a child with autism is increased by closely spaced pregnancies, suggest researchers from Columbia University in New York. Study findings revealed that babies conceived before their older sibling reached one year in age had triple the risk of being diagnosed with autism compared with children spaced three years apart, reports CNN. The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, included more than 660,000 children born second in their families in California between 1992 and 2002. Researchers speculate that autism rates may have increased in closely spaced children because the mothers may not have had enough time to build up nutrient reserves of folate and iron.