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 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, in New York City.”In this study, we show for the first time that autism risk is associated with disparately-aged parents.

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