Closely Spaced Pregnancies Might Increase Autism Risk
There has been some previous evidence that closely-spaced pregnancies might pose some health risks to both mothers and babies. For example, the CDC found that many women don't wait long enough between pregnancies.
And now, a new study by Pediatrics shows that closely-spaced pregnancies might also be linked to higher rates of autism too. The study, which was done in California, looked at births that occurred from 1992 to 2002.
The researchers found that gaps between children that were less than 12 months, between one and two years, and between two and three years were more closely associated with higher rates of autism in the later-born baby. The highest risk occurred if the babies were born less than on year apart. And according to the study, the risk was the same across the board, no matter the ages of the parents or their socioeconomic status.
It's an interesting association and of course, it doesn't mean that close gaps between kiddos causes autism, but that the researchers found that for some reason or another, there is an association between closely spaced pregnancies and autism. The definition of “close gaps” is subjective too–all of my kids are two years apart and I never considered that “closely-spaced,” but according to this study, it's actually very close. Even three years apart would be considered “closely spaced.”
And on the flip side, other studies found that a long gap is associated with higher rates of autism too, so it's hard to tell what's an “ideal” gap between children. Plus, let's face it–some of us really don't have any control over that spacing, so it's best not to worry too much about if you're waiting too long or a baby happens to come along.
So what does this mean for you? If you're currently pregnant with a close age gap between your kids, don't panic. One study doesn't prove anything and it's important to take all studies about pregnancy with a grain of salt and remember we can only control so much. But it's helpful to be educated about possible risks and if it would help ease your mind, you can brush up on some of the early symptoms of autism to you can have your child evaluated as early as possible if you notice any signs.
How closely spaced are your children?