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Gaining perspective on the risk factors for autism

Autism is a common, and frequently misunderstood, disorder. Early intervention is beneficial to children with autism, and parents are usually on the front lines of recognizing the signs. Being aware of your child’s risk factors can give you more insight into what to look for and when to consult with your child’s pediatrician about his or her symptoms. April is Autism Awareness Month, which will be honored by hospitals and other organizations across the country with educational events, and it offers the perfect opportunity to learn more about the risk factors for autism. Here is a closer look at some of the things that make a child more vulnerable to autism.

Sex

Although doctors do not yet understand the reason, boys are about five times more likely to develop autism than girls. About one in 42 boys will develop autism, with the condition affecting about one in 62 children overall. Researchers are trying to uncover the reason that boys are more likely to develop autism, and they suspect it could be linked to a missing gene or DNA sequence on the X chromosome. Since girls get two X chromosomes, the missing sequence could appear on their other chromosome, protecting them from autism. Since boys only get one X chromosome, they do not have a chance to get the missing sequence from anywhere else.

Family History

Families with one child with autism have a greater risk of having another one develop the disorder. In many cases, families with one child with autism may notice certain behaviors associated with the condition in their other children, even if those children are not ultimately diagnosed.

Parents’ Ages

Autism is more common in children of older parents, but researchers are not sure why there is a link. Babies born to teen moms also have a heightened risk of the condition. There also seems to be a greater risk of autism in children born to parents with a wide age gap.

If you want to learn more about your child’s risk of autism, speak to a pediatric specialist at Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center. The expert physicians at our hospital in Thousand Oaks can evaluate your child and help you understand the signs of autism, so you’re prepared. For a specialist referral, please call our hospital at (877) 888-5746.

Categories: autism

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