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A new study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, funded and led by Autism Speaks (a U.S.-based advocacy group that invests in autism research), found that children of teen moms and kids of parents with a wide gap in age are at higher risk for autism. It's the largest multinational study to date on the well-known link between parental age and autism, according to International Business Times.
The study examined health records of more than 5.7 million children born between 1985 and 2004 in five countries—Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Australia. Among children of teen moms, autism rates were 18 percent higher than for moms who had kids in their 20s.
For parents who had a large gap in their ages, there was also a high rate of autism in children. The rates were highest for babies born to a father between 35 and 44 and a mother who was in her early 20s. International Business Times reports that this is the first study to show that a difference in age between parents can increase a child's risk of autism.
A father's age remains the greatest risk factor in a child developing autism, as children of fathers who were over 50 years of age were 66 percent more likely to have autism than children of fathers in their 20s.