What Are the Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder

What Are the Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder

What Are the Risk Factors for Autism Spectrum Disorder?

• Parents' age and genetics. Both parents' ages at the child's conception, particularly the father's age, increase the risk of autism in children. Fathers who are 35 years of age can pass on mutated genes to offspring. A 36-year-old father has twice as many gene mutations as a 20-year-old father. For example, the CUL3 gene encodes a protein that influences the size of a person's head and body. CUL3 gene mutations may increase the risk of autism.

• Fetal hypoxia. Excessive bleeding and hypertension during pregnancy, as well as labor dystocia and cesarean section during childbirth, can result in fetal hypoxia, which increases the incidence rate of autism in children. Women who wait two to five years before getting pregnant again with a second child reduce the risk of autism.

• Gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes increases the risk of autism. A high blood glucose level in the uterus of women with gestational diabetes can damage the placenta and cause fetal hypoxia, chronic inflammation, and gene mutations, all of which raise the risk of autism. However, women with type 2 diabetes have no increased risk of giving birth to children with autism compared to women without diabetes.

• Psychoactive drugs. Risperidone and aripiprazole are drugs approved by the FDA to treat autism. In addition to these two drugs, physicians prescribe psychoactive drugs to nearly 50% of all children with autism. Common side effects of psychoactive drugs include epilepsy, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, panic attacks, and ADHD. All of these symptoms are prevalent in children with autism.

• Aluminum. On average, a child receives at least 18 vaccinations from birth through their teenage years in the US. Vaccines contain aluminum as an adjuvant, which can boost the body's immune response to produce antibodies. Aluminum is a known neurotoxin. Scientists question whether aluminum in vaccines has caused the sharp rise in the incidence of autism in children in the past 40 years in the US.