A review of existing studies by Harvard researchers has found that children born to older parents have increased autism risk. The study also found that children whose mother suffered complications during pregnancy were also at increased risk of developing autism in later life.
The researchers assessed 64 studies on the subject and took into account factors like birth, parents' age, and complications during pregnancy and the risk of the child developing autism.
The study noted that being first born, bleeding during pregnancy, developing diabetes while pregnant, using medication while pregnant and mothers' age over 30 were the leading issues linked with the risk of autism. Being first born increased the risk of developing autism by 61 percent, while being a mother over the age of 30 increased the risk of autism by between 27 per cent to 106 per cent.
"There is some evidence to suggest that exposure to pregnancy complications in general may increase the risk of autism," the researchers wrote, but added that there was no standout factor that could be cited as a leading risk.
The details are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.