Having Babies Close In Age Can Triple Autism Risk, Says Study

Having two kids close together could increase the second child's chance for autism, a new study has suggested. In the study, researchers from Columbia University analyzed tons of data, including more than 660,000 birth records of second-born children in California. They'd started looking at baby age-spacing because of previous studies showing that closer-in-age kids had higher risk of some mental disorders, so they wanted to know if it affected autism, too. By the time the second-born children were six years old, more than 3,000 of them were diagnosed with autism. And of those, about 2,700 were born less than three years after their older sister or brother.

So if they were conceived less than two years after their siblings, they were nearly twice as likely to develop autism. And babies even closer in age had more drastic results: those conceived less than a year after the first child were three times as likely to become autistic. Researchers aren’t positive why, but reasons could include new moms having nutrient deficiencies, such as iron and folate. Or it could be that moms with kids close in age are simply more aware if one child isn't developing properly (since they have the first kid to compare to) and are more likely to get their kids tested for autism. This research is notable because it’s one more piece of evidence suggesting that autism is caused by some combination of genetic and environmental factors.

So what if your kids are close in age? Don’t worry -- the overall risk of your child having autism is pretty low (about 1 in 100 children have the disorder). “At this point we aren’t able to say from this research that delaying a second pregnancy would have an effect on autism risk,” lead study author Keely Cheslack-Postava told MSNBC.com.

How Far Apart Do You Want to Space Your Kids? Chime in below!

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