Sunday April 21, 2019

New Study: Large age gap between parents increases autism risk in kids

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autism diagnosis

New York: Children born to teenage mothers and whose parents have a large gap between their ages, are at an increased risk of developing Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), says a large study involving 5.7 million children in five countries.

The study also confirmed that older parents are at higher risk of having children with ASD, which is characterised by social avoidance, repetitive behaviours and difficulty in communicating.

“When we first reported that the older age of fathers increases risk for autism, we suggested that mutations might be the cause. Genetic research later showed that this hypothesis was correct,” said study co-author, Abraham Reichenberg, neuropsychologist and epidemiologist with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City.

“In this study, we show for the first time that autism risk is associated with disparately-aged parents. Future research should look into this to understand the mechanisms,” Reichenberg noted.

The study, published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, looked at autism rates among 5,766,794 children — including more than 30,000 with autism — in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia.

The children were born between 1985 and 2004, and the researchers followed up on their development until 2009, checking national health records for autism diagnoses.

Autism rates were 66 percent higher among children born to fathers over 50 years of age, than among those born to fathers in their 20s. Autism rates were 28 percent higher when fathers were in their 40s versus 20s.

Autism rates were 15 percent higher in children born to mothers in their 40s, compared to those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates were 18 percent higher among children born to teenage mothers than among those born to mothers in their 20s.

Autism rates rose still higher when both parents were older, in line with what one would expect if each parent’s age contributed to risk.

Autism rates also rose with widening gaps between two parents’ ages. These rates were highest when fathers were between 35 and 44 and their partners were 10 or more years younger.

“These results suggest that multiple mechanisms are contributing to the association between parental age and ASD risk,” the authors concluded. (IANS)

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Avoid Smoking During Pregnancy To Prevent Premature Births

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known. 

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The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality. Pixabay

Expecting mothers, take note. As smoking during pregnancy is linked with negative health outcomes, a team of researchers has found that smoking cessation during pregnancy may reduce the risk of pre-term birth.

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy.

baby
If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation. Pixabay

“Of concern, though, given the substantial benefits of smoking cessation during pregnancy is that the proportion of pre-pregnancy smokers who quit smoking during pregnancy has remained essentially stagnant since 2011,” said lead author Samir Soneji from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice in the US.

For the study, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of more than 25 million pregnant women who gave birth to live neonates during a six-year period — measuring their smoking frequency three months prior to pregnancy and for each trimester during pregnancy.

The negative health impacts of cigarette smoking during pregnancy, including low birth weight, delayed intrauterine development, pre-term birth, infant mortality, and long-term developmental delays, are well known.

But the good news is that the proportion of women who start their pregnancy as smokers has been declining in recent years, the researchers said.

smoking

The findings, published in the JAMA Network Open journal, showed that the probability of pre-term birth decreased with earlier smoking cessation in pregnancy — up to a 20 per cent relative decrease if cessation occurred at the beginning of pregnancy. Pixabay

However, the study also found that only about 25 per cent of women who smoked prior to pregnancy were able to quit throughout their pregnancy, and approximately 50 per cent of women who smoked during their pregnancy did so with high frequency (more than 10 cigarettes per day).

The researcher plans to look at quit rates and smoking intensity and their impact on the risk of infant mortality.

Also Read: How Netflix Binge-Watching Can Lead You The “Mean World Syndrome”

“Thankfully most premature babies end up doing well,” he said.

“But premature birth is strongly linked to infant mortality. If we determine quitting, and quitting early, reduces the risk of infant mortality, then that may speak to mothers even more saliently about the importance of smoking cessation,” he added. (IANS)