Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Clinic Notes: Family Planning in the Age of Autism

The only family planning my wife and I did was to wait until I was out of graduate school. I was 27 and she was 26 when our first child was born and our second child was born 5 years latter. Both were female and normally developing, as are their children now. But now, family planning in the age of autism just got a lot more difficult.
A study reported in the journal Pediatrics found that the closer together children were spaced in date of birth the greater the chance of the second child having a diagnosis of autism. We already knew that older mothers and or older fathers increased the chances of autism, but this new study complicates that finding. So to increase the odds of our children staying off the autism spectrum we have to have our children early, but not too close together, both parents should be young--I've seen young moms and older dads have children with autism--something about old sperm--so no more younger trophy wives. And of course it is better to have girls than boys because the ratio of autistic males to females is 4 or 5 to 1. Living close to a freeway or an agriculture field increases the chance of autism so couples may need to move before having a family. And higher education is correlated with autism so drop out of school. I don't recall seeing a young teenage mother with a child with autism in my clinic, but perhaps there are some.
There is nothing funny about autism and I don't mean for this blog to be humorous, but this is what the data are telling us at this point.

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