Time Between Births of Siblings Could Influence Autism Risk

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The length of time between when siblings are born could play a factor in autism risk.

Keely Cheslack-Postava, PhD, of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York, and colleagues examined data from the Finnish Prenatal Study of Autism, analyzing the records of 7,371 children born between 1987 and 2005. Of that number, about one-third were diagnosed with autism.

Children conceived less than one year or more than five years after the birth of another sibling were more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared with children who were conceived after a gap of  between two and five years, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Cheslack-Postavva, however, cautioned that drawing concrete conclusions from the study results would be a mistake.

“It is important to realize that we can't say from this study that spacing of pregnancies per se is a cause of [autism] — this is most likely a proxy of other factors that are more directly related to the chance of the child's developing [autism],” she said, according to SheKnows Australia. “In other words, the importance of this finding lies in the clues that it can provide in terms of understanding how the prenatal environment is related to outcomes after birth.”

Time Between Births of Siblings Could Influence Autism Risk
Time Between Births of Siblings Could Influence Autism Risk
Autism risk could be related to how far apart siblings are born, according to new research. Children who were conceived less than one year or more than five years after the birth of their prior sibling were more likely to be diagnosed with autism when compared with children who were conceived after a gap of between two and five years.
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