Closely spaced pregnancies increase autism risk
January 10th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Closely spaced pregnancies increase autism risk

The likelihood that a child develops autism may be tied to how close together a mother spaces the births of her children, according to research in the journal Pediatrics. The new study found that children conceived before their older sibling was a year old were three times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than children spaced at least three years apart.

"This is an intriguing finding, it potentially points to another one of the risk factors for autism," says Andy Shih, Ph.D., vice president of scientific affairs for the organization Autism Speaks.

The researchers looked at more than 660,000 second-born children in California between 1992 and 2002. Even after adjusting for factors such as a mother's age, race and education levels the findings still held.

What seems to be driving this increase? Study author Keely Cheslack-Postava, Ph.D., from Columbia University in New York says that she and her fellow researchers did not investigate this specifically, but they suspect mothers may not have had enough time between pregnancies to build up the much needed nutrient reserves of folate and iron, important to a developing fetus.

Another theory is that autism is detected and diagnosed more easily when siblings are close in age and developmental differences are more recognizable.

The consensus among autism experts is that the disorder is most likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. According to  Shih,  scientists have made great strides in the quest to understand the genetics of autism, but research on environmental triggers is lagging behind.

"What this paper points out and confirms and something the research community has long suspected from other studies, is that prenatal environmental factors are also important in a child's development [of autism]," says Shih.

Researchers say until other studies confirms these findings it's premature to recommend that parents make changes in the length of time between pregnancies in hopes of reducing the risk of autism.

"Awareness of risk factors is important, but the most important thing a parent can do if concerned about their child's development is see a doctor. Don't wait, because the earlier the detection [of autism] the better the prognosis might be," explains Shih.

soundoff (173 Responses)
  1. Sue

    Again another study that is published without enough information or research. Were there more than one child in a family who was diagnosed on the spectrum? Or was only the child “too close in age” the only member diagnosed? The scientific community is grasping at straws trying to explain a phenomena that they have no control over. There a plenty of families that their first born is only child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. I would love to think that autism is simply caused by “living too close to a highway” (another study CNN mentioned a few weeks back) or siblings being “too close in age”. Both studies are not worth ink used to write them.

    January 10, 2011 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Becki

      I totally agree Sue...I hav e an only child and he is autistic and I have a friend whose oldest is autistic..They are just tryin to find an excuse as to how it forms..I think it has something to do with chromosomes not forming correctly from both parents while the fetus is developing...There are so many excuses as to how it is formed so no one reallys know for sure!

      January 10, 2011 at 05:36 | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Don't be ridiculous. Just because it doesn't answer the entire question, it's "not worth the ink used to write it?" It's a piece of the puzzle.

      You also need to recheck your thinking; the fact that some firstborn are autistic doesn't say anything at all about whether closely-spaced pregnancies are a risk factor.

      January 10, 2011 at 05:46 | Report abuse |
    • EricT

      This is just saying it is a possible link that may lead to a cause. Autism has a whole spectrum as you said, and the researchers never said this is a cause, they said they never looked into the reason why, they just published and observation.. The way science works is by doing small studies finding some evidence that would allow them to get funding to do a much bigger scale. Funny to thin this study is only 6000 patience, but the wack job that said MMR causes autism had only 12 yet people hold that to be true.

      January 10, 2011 at 06:16 | Report abuse |

      These studies are always interesting, always BS, but interesting BS. Autism has been linked to pot smoke inhaled first or second hand by the mother, Mothers with STD"S and the medicine used to heal them has been linked. Autism is often found in younger child when the children are many many years apart even if the mother is still young. There is a link to woman that at any point in their life have been drunk that they run a higher risk of child with autism. Autism has been linked to parents who use lubricants during conception. Its many things, and these studies are useless.

      January 10, 2011 at 07:08 | Report abuse |
    • ?

      Please keep in mind that this is a news piece and not the original research. The study wasn't published without enough research, the news piece was. If you want to read the actual paper, go to your local library and get a copy of the article from Pediatrics.

      I don't think the scientific community is "grasping at straws" with autism any more than they "grasped at straws" to put a man on the moon. Science is a process of inquiry and not an undertaking that is going to answer all questions that are worth asking on the first shot.

      January 10, 2011 at 07:24 | Report abuse |
    • Techrat3D

      This study is a bunch of BS. I guess the people who did this study, never checked out the Duggar family with their 18 kids?

      January 10, 2011 at 08:33 | Report abuse |
    • Momma Ali

      Do not forget about first born children. My son has a chance of being Autistic and he's my first born child. The high demand for answers to the cause of Autism is causing scientists to produce information that may or may not be true. There are plenty of resources available dignifying the liklihood of having a child with Autism when more children are within a family. The article is telling us something we generally understood. In every sense, this was a study horribly wasted.

      I could have located a better answer in the 10 years they worked on this. I am excrutiatingly disappointed.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • Janet

      This study is not true. My children are 11 years apart, and my son who was my second child was born autistic. These people are just grasping at straws !!!!!

      January 10, 2011 at 09:04 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Many of you who are criticizing this study don't seem to have a very complete understanding of science. The study does not say that first-borns are NEVER autistic, or that your child ONLY has a risk of autism if he/she is born closely after a sibling. It is simply saying that children who are born closely after a sibling have an increased risk as compared to children who are spaced further apart. That does NOT mean that all children born close together are autistic, or that children spaced 3+ years apart are never autistic. Anecdotes about particular cases of an autistic only child or large closely-spaced families with no autistic children are scientifically irrelevant.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:47 | Report abuse |
    • Alexandra

      All the research data for various factors was probably put into a program that searches for trends in the data.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • LGLK

      I agree with Sue. My boys are 3 1/2 years apart and my younger has autism. I get that they're not implying that it's common among kids whose sibling was born a year prior. But these studies need to be monitored more thoroughly and information released when they have all their ducks in a row. Not to just throw in, well, it could also have to do with the fact that you compare one sibling to the other so autism is more easily diagnosed.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:57 | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Sorry Sue and Vicki, You clearly don't know much about how research is done. Since I'm a scientist and parent of autistic child I feel the need to reply here. No, this paper doesn't solve the question but it is a reasonably good lead. And those of you who argue that this research is wrong because it doesn't apply to your family (when there are millions of other families out there) are totally ignorant. I know people who smoked 75 years and didn't get lung cancer but that doesn't mean the there is not a very strong link between the two.

      January 10, 2011 at 10:04 | Report abuse |
    • Sue

      I know a lot about the scientific method for research. I also know that millions upon millions of dollars are sent each year trying to find the “cause of autism”. Some researchers have too broad of hypothesis then after collect the data, they derive at their theory. Other researchers have not collected enough data (or their population sample is just too small), but yet still publish their results in hopes of receiving more funds for further research. I wish that half the money spent on these bogus research projects would be spent on helping our children better prepare for independent and self-sufficient lives when we are no longer around to protect them. An equal amount of research money should be sent helping find techniques and skills to teach our children to become “typical” adults.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Wow - the lack of understanding of science represented by commenters such as Sue, Techrat3D and Janet is staggering. As nicely explained by Jen, this research is looking for trends, not absolutes, so finding a single counter-example is meaningless. That would be like saying that all of the studies showing that seat belts save lives must be wrong, because my cousin died in a car crash while wearing a seat belt.

      So what is the point of a study like this if it does not give absolute answers? Scientists currently have a poor understanding of the causes of autism, so looking for trends like this one may provide clues. If children born shortly after a sibling are more likely to have autism, scientists can then try to figure out what might be different about such children - thereby potentially revealing the real cause. This is hinted at in the article, where one of many possible hypotheses (that mothers may be nutrient-deficient when they have babies close together) is proposed.

      Put simply, this is how science addresses tough questions. First you look for patterns, and then you try to identify causes that could explain these patterns.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:20 | Report abuse |
    • angela duff

      I'm an independent pampered chef consultant I am doing a fundraiser for AUTISM SPEAKS. Please go to my website http://www.pamperedchef.biz/angeladuff click shop online. Type in autism speaks and start shopping for this cause. Pampered chef is going to donate 15% of my sales to this cause plus every party that get booked and held pampered chef will donate $3.00 to this cause also. So please find it in your heart to SHOP NOW FOR AUTISM SPEAKS. There is a wide price range for every budget!!! Every $ counts This will help with more research so please HELP!!!!

      January 10, 2011 at 12:26 | Report abuse |
    • midwestgirl44

      This story is about as accurate as saying driving on the right side of the road in a snow storm may increase your child's risk of autism. They have no facts to base this on. They way it's worded is complete bs.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
    • Nicole

      I totally agreem My first born has aspergers and my second child who was born three years later has autism I laughed at this study. It was a waste of time and money.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:44 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      I don't know why I read the comment sections of CNN articles, it just makes me depressed about the scientific literacy of our country. After several posters have explained what this study does and does not claim, there are still people making comments like: "Well, my son was my first born and is autistic, so clearly this study is bogus."

      Thank goodness for those of you who understood the article – it gives me hope that we're not a completely uneducated society (yet).

      January 10, 2011 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • Del

      I totally agree with Sue. It seems like every week they come out with a new study about Autism and ADHD. My first child has autism and I know no one in Hamilton, Ontario Canada that fits this scenario.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:11 | Report abuse |
  2. Becki

    Excse me Ann..but that is not the case Thank you very much...My child is an only child and is autistic...Unless you have actually gone through the whole ordeal of having a child that is autistic then shut your mouth...I am an awesome mother and do everything wtih my child to help him...SO NO IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH POOR PARENTING SKILLS...So until you experience it yourself...Then dont judge!

    January 10, 2011 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Opinionated

    So, "ann", is your last name Coulter? She's the only one stupid enough to make a brainless and thoughtless comment like that.

    January 10, 2011 at 05:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Kelly

    ann, Austism? I've heard people say that about ADHD, but not Autism. Some of the symptoms of Autism are not talking at the expected age, not making eye contact, lacking age appropriate social skills. These are not symptoms of bad parenting. Perhaps you should do some research before making such an incendiary comment.

    January 10, 2011 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jdy

    Scott–ADHD?? That is as dumb as Ann's comments about Autism. It is so sad to read people's ignorant comments. You all are retarded (in its original definitikn from the dictionary...delayed).

    January 10, 2011 at 06:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jdy

    Sorry Ann, I meant Becki!! Ugh. Just sickening!

    January 10, 2011 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply


    January 10, 2011 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • EricT

      this does not say that close pregnancies are a CAUSE of autism, it just saying there is statistically an increase risk of autism when the pregnancies are close. They never said cause, they did not even look into why there maybe a risk, just through out some possible explanations, that is for another study. this is just purely OBSERVATION, not B.S. In order to do a more intensive study research ave to prove a reason for looking into it in the first place, this is a small study but enough to get funding for a bigger more in depth study

      January 10, 2011 at 06:32 | Report abuse |
    • Daws

      Anecdote vs. systematic survey....hmmm

      January 10, 2011 at 07:41 | Report abuse |
    • T. Charles

      Autism is difficult to diagnose and there have been few randomized studies in third world countries to determine its prevalence. This would be a worthwhile study since it might help to answer if there is something in the 1st world environment that is a contributing factor.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      How slow are you?? Of course it's not diagnosed in poorer countries with limited medical access. Autism is a medical diagnosis...os if there is no medical access, there isn't going to be a diagnosis.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:03 | Report abuse |
    • Margo

      Kate and Charles,
      do you really think that it's difficult to diagnose when a child doesn't talk, doesn't imitate etc.?

      January 11, 2011 at 02:15 | Report abuse |
  8. Jdy

    Wow, maybe I am dumb. Yes...Ann it is you who is ridiculously dumb!!!

    January 10, 2011 at 06:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Vincent Cate

    There is another possible explanation for the results. Autism often does not show up till after a child is 2 years old. If the parents have found out their first child is autistic they may be less inclined to have other children (an autistic child is a lot of work). So people who space the children further apart have more time to find out and so statistically have less children if they are at risk (environment or heredity).

    January 10, 2011 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doug

      This is an intriguing idea, but was actually explicitly addressed in the paper, and shown not to be the cause of the effect. From the paper: "Children who had a firstborn sibling diagnosed with autism were excluded to avoid bias that could occur if autism in a first child affected subsequent childbearing. This might be more likely among families with longer IPIs who have more time to observe a first child before conceiving the second."

      January 10, 2011 at 12:36 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Another quote from the paper that nicely addresses this issue: "Another concern is that autism diagnosis or symptoms in a first child may impact the decision to have a second child (“stoppage”) and that this would be more likely with longer IPIs. To avoid potential bias this would induce, we included in logistic regression analyses only subjects whose first sibling did
      not have an autism diagnosis; if the firstborn child does not have autism, stoppage cannot effect whether a second
      child is born."

      January 10, 2011 at 12:49 | Report abuse |
  10. ter

    It has nothing to do with how close together you have your children Its been like that since the beginning of time just take a look back no birth control back then children where born very close up to 10 and we know 17 children per women and no Autism,or it was very rare. It is all the preservatives that are being put in all our foods from milk to our bread, We need to be eating a more natural diet with out all the preservatives

    January 10, 2011 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ?

      You've got a number of flaws here. Kanner was the first to argue that there was a disorder called autism in 1947, before then it was lumped under childhood schizophrenia, so sure it was rare there was no diagnostic label. What backs up your claim that it is the preservatives in food "causing" autism? Next I'm sure you'll say that it's vaccines right?

      January 10, 2011 at 07:33 | Report abuse |
    • kmcg

      Actually, for most of human history babies were spaced about 3-4 years apart, mostly through the use of breastfeeding for that long (which suppresses menstruation) and secondly through herbal abortions. You didn't want a second child until your first could easily walk.

      January 10, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Yes, breastfeeding naturally spaced kids for the most part.

      But no, autism was always around and diagnosed as MR. Many MR kids at my grammar and high schools were obviously autistic according to today's criteria – social interactions were their main issues.

      January 11, 2011 at 08:15 | Report abuse |
  11. Dirty Doggg

    Maybe the Duggars will stop having so many kids now. I don't know how many of them have autism or another type of retardation, but many of them have retarded names (they all start with "J").

    January 10, 2011 at 06:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      You really need to get a life.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:04 | Report abuse |
  12. Paullox

    Thank you Vincent. That is exactly what occured to me mere moments after reading this. It's amazing to me that supposed "smart" people couldn't (or didn't want to) realize this on their own. Then again, if they did, and said as much, that could possibly kill funding for follow up studies.
    This is just another way to avoid doing a meaningful study: vaccinated kids compared to unvaccinated. That would put the whole vaccine issue to rest and shut one side or the other up once and for all. Yet, nobody will do that one. Just studies like this that have no consequence at all.

    January 10, 2011 at 06:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kmcg

      They HAVE done that study. And in all there are over 100 studies now disproving that link.

      January 10, 2011 at 08:34 | Report abuse |
    • PlainJane88

      Really? They've done studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated children? I can think of one that I've seen to date. Can you name me any of these 100? I'm honestly curious! So please... anything that can remember about them to help my search.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      I agree. And how about a study of the US vs. European countries where the vaccination schedule is different and so are the autism rates.

      January 10, 2011 at 11:00 | Report abuse |
    • Andy47

      The best way to find the literature is to go to Google Scholar or Pubmed and search "Autism vaccine". The Pubmed search returns 530 articles in peer-reviewed journals, many are open-access and can be read for free.

      Overwhelmingly, the data refute a link between vaccination and autism.
      Here's one recent, moderately large-scale study:

      "Prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal from vaccines and immunoglobulins and risk of autism." (Price et al., Pediatrics, 2010). Conclusion (my paraphrase): A case controlled study between 256 Autism spectrum children (some vaccinated using thimerosol and some not) and 752 healthy children (some vaccinated with thimerosol and some not) found no association between any Autism spectrum disorder and vaccinations using thimerosol.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:08 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Paullox: I am always amused by people who bash scientific studies based on a CNN summary. You assume (incorrectly) that the researchers did not consider this, and then go on to insult their intelligence and integrity based on your incorrect assumption - making you look rather foolish.

      In fact, this issue was explicitly addressed. From the paper: "Children who had a firstborn sibling diagnosed with autism were excluded to avoid bias that could occur if autism in a first child affected subsequent childbearing. This might be more likely among families with longer IPIs who have more time to observe a first child before conceiving the second."

      January 10, 2011 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      As for the vaccines and autism connection, there have been at least 6 large epidemiological studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated kids (all of which showed no difference), as well as numerous smaller studies looking at dosing schedules. Collectively, they present an overwhelming case that there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:35 | Report abuse |
    • rh

      Did it ever occur to you that almost any stress (a cold, a death in the family, moving) can trigger an underlying condition like autism? If vaccines are one of many ways autism can go from dormant to active, is it worth the public health risk to stop vaccinating?

      The incidence of autism is similar to the incidence of MR when I was growing up, in fact there were more MR kids in my grammar school (3 or 4 per grade) than there are MR & autistic kids in my son's grammar school (2 per grade).

      January 11, 2011 at 08:32 | Report abuse |
  13. PlainJane88

    Maybe it has to do with the MMR vaccine Mom got after her 1st birth. Look into it Cnn!!

    January 10, 2011 at 07:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IxNay

      Well, this indeed a novel theory; one I hadn't heard before.

      January 10, 2011 at 07:06 | Report abuse |
  14. Jorma J. Takala

    Oh my god are you kidding me?
    This has no basis, no backbone, nothing to stand on.

    that cause of autism is NOT the frequency of pregnancies, But the preservative used in Margarine, Mayonnaise , some canned foods and medicines.

    It's called Calcium Disodium EDTA, it's made from formaldehyde and sodium cyanide and as far as I can tell, Anything made from poison, is still poison.

    In addition to the EDTA, Artificial colors, flavors, msg and some other preservatives help to further the damage caused by swelling of the brain stem which in turn creates a fluid pressure increase in the skull, This ICP, or intracranial pressure is what causes the brain to suffer an arrested development because the fluid will not allow normal growth.

    This is also how it caused my aspergers syndrome, Daily consumption of margarine, edta and the other additives caused the pressure to be maintained for long periods because of the constant consumption of additives in my daily life.

    Autism is also maintained by the daily consumption of these toxic additives, Otherwise the brain would do it's thing and grow normally. But continued consumption keep the ICP (intracranial pressure) going and the pressure continues. And so does the autism.

    Artificial can last several days while EDTA continues to cause problems for as many as 15 days. I know this because if I accidentally eat any, I get very very sick and all the symptoms and problems return until the substances are purged from my body.

    I know this is true because when I stopped eating the junk toxic additives, My bipolar manic disorder went into remission and my aspergers syndrome has begun to improve and I am becoming more and more aware of the many problems that I experienced!

    I pray that this helps you and your child(ren)

    January 10, 2011 at 07:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Christen

      Do you have any large scale randomized studies to back this up? One person's experience cannot be extrapolated to the entire population. I could just as easily say that margarine and other foods full of preservatives are perfectly safe and healthy because I eat lots of them everyday and have had no health problems my entire life. These researchers are going about it the proper way by conducting studies and saying that it is POSSIBLE there is a link between pregnancy spacing and autism. They are not jumping to conclusions based on ONE person's experience. The findings from one study lead to further studies and may eventually show us a cause of autism.

      January 10, 2011 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
    • jmw

      I know I am going to sound like an idiot by the end of this post, but being the only advocate for my autistic son, I feel the need to say something here. I disagree with you a little... However, I think you are definately heading in the right direction. Many autism cases are diagnosed at age 2... just how much margerine and mayonaise do you think a 2 year old has eaten? Especially if the child was breastfed? Now if your saying it's from the mother ingesting it, then that makes more sense, but if your saying it's directly caused by the child eating it, then that's were we differ. Having an autistic child myself, he was definately born with it. He didnt develop it after eating margerine. He was my first child and I didnt know any different. But in hindsight, especially since my 2nd child is "typical", I see the differences in their health, growth and behavior since birth. Similar to you, I do believe it's something environmental... but I believe its something that I have been breathing or eating over the years that affected the genetics I passed on to him. It could be the artificial stuff in our food to which you are refering. Why it didnt affect my 2nd child... no clue. Again, possibly genetics. I think you are allergic to artificial additives, which I firmly believe can intensify autistic behavior. I know this because my son is allergic to gluten... when he does eat it, his behavior is out of control. Also, sweeteners such as high fructose corn syrup send him into a frenzy. So it's very similar to your experiences. As I said, I do believe that you are heading in the right direction with this, but I believe it starts from the parents, not from the kids themselves. The main difference in our thinking is the origination. Did it come from the parent or was it developed after birth. I think my son was born with these "sensitivies" and eating these certain foods intensifies his autism.

      I grew up with a single working mom... lots of boxed mac&cheese and preservatives! Same with my husband. My generation was the ginea pig of processed/packaged foods on a daily basis. I believe all the preservatives and artificial additives we have digested over the years ended up affecting our son's genetics. My grandparents era, and partially even my mother's era, they grew up on farms with big families (14 siblings in my Grandmothers family), stay-at-home Moms and all natural foods. Very few people had autism or disorders like autism back then. Vaccines get a bum rap because the autism signs show up around 2 years old, when they get rediculous amounts of vaccines. However, people who like to blame vaccines choose to ignore the flip side... kids start exhibiting more social behavior and are EXPECTED to participate more socially at age 2, thus the autistic behaviors become more noticible.

      Thank you for letting me put it my two cents! I do my best to choose natural ingredients and to avoid the foods that affect my son. It's encouraging to know that it actually works! Good luck to you!

      January 10, 2011 at 17:32 | Report abuse |
    • Jorma J. Takala


      87% had an adverse behavioral reaction to the dyes.

      A combination of the additives would wreak havoc on a persons mental state.

      You need studies to tell you formaldehyde and sodium cyanide are deadly toxic to living humans?

      You can't think that through on your own?

      I find it foolish to spend more money on finding a cure when prevention is the only cure.

      the only one!

      January 20, 2011 at 02:52 | Report abuse |
    • Jorma J. Takala

      Based on my understanding of these additives and how the mechanism that creates Autism occurs is triggered by the additives is based on not only my own experiences, But those of my wife, My mother, A woman was randomly searching for people on Myspace for people who had experienced a problem with their child, She happened upon my page and we talked for a couple of weeks.

      Her daughter was being seen by doctors at NIH for a recurring fever and a rash (hives) that would not go away.
      After she took the additive laden foods away from her the rash and fever went away.

      She visited with her father who didn't listen to his exwife and gave her a blue colored ring pop and the fever and rash immediately returned.

      I wish wrong about this, But I am not.

      Autism occurs when the swelling of the brain stem pinches off the cisterna magna creating a physical fluid pressure increase in the cranium, This is know as Intracranial pressure, or ICP.

      Within 5 minutes of consuming, or using products on my body containing any dyes, or other additives, I get a migraine headache, Directly at the base of the skull in back of my head.

      I also suffer from an immediate tinitis (ringing of the ears) and the sensation that my eyes are being physically pushed out.

      Usually dye free benadryl takes the migraine away because I know its an allergic reaction!

      It's as simple as trying a couple of dye free benadryl and see if in fact the migraine headache goes away within 30 minutes like I say it does.

      Doctor William Vasilakis, Integrity Psychological Services in Ohio, The psychiatrist I was ordered to see for some personal things complained about migraine headaches and I immediately told him to try the benadryl, I visited him a week later and he said the benedryl absolutely worked and he was suprised that I was right.

      If you're allergic to benadryl dont try this.
      Whats the worst that could happen?
      You find that I am right and am absolutely not alone in this... We're all in this sinking ship together!

      January 20, 2011 at 03:03 | Report abuse |
  15. theriault

    My youngest son is autistic and my two boys are 5 years apart

    January 10, 2011 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      So what? The article isn't staying that your youngest shouldn't have autism. It says that when kids are born closer together, the 2nd kids chances of having autism were higher in the sample that was studied.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:08 | Report abuse |
  16. Sean

    I commend the researchers for trying to come up with another piece of the autism puzzle but I don't buy this research. For one, the article said that they only looked at the second-born children in California but later int he article they also say that environmental factors play a role in autism. This just tells me that maybe there's something about California. They should have looked at these children throughout the world, or at the very least throughout the US. Then I believe it might have a bit more strength to it.

    I am married to a woman who had two children in a previous marriage and her second son does have Asperger's Syndrome but even though he was the second-born child for her there was almost two years between her first child and second child. Also, my wife and I together have 3 children with our first two being only 11 months apart and our second-born child (a girl) is very smart for her age. So I guess I'm a bit skeptical of the research.

    January 10, 2011 at 07:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kmcg

      In research when the word "environmental" is used, it also includes things like spacing and environment of fetus, environment of child in house and within family... it is much more encompassing than it initially seems.

      Remember, this is a correlation, not causation.

      January 10, 2011 at 08:36 | Report abuse |
  17. travers74

    I was a special education teacher for 7 years and did NOT find the same to be true at all. I had many children, every year on the autistic spectrum. In my personal experience, I would say that 90% (or more) of my autistic students were only children or first born children. I believe there are many pieces to the mysterious puzzle of autism and although nutrients may have "something" to do with it, I don't put too much stock in it...

    January 10, 2011 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T. Charles

      Travers74– have you considered that many of the children you saw were the only child in his/her family? This study is not saying that firstborn children cannot get autism. Since most families have 1 to 3 kids, there will be many more firstborn and only-child children in any large randomized group of children, so numerically it will seem that "firstborn/only child" children will have the most autism since that population is the most numerous.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      Many autistic are the only child because couples are afraid to deal with a second child with a disability or afraid that they cannot devout enough resources to either first or second born.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse |
  18. kmcg

    Interesting observation... However, whether closely spaced babies cause autism or not, it IS healthier for moms and babies to wait at least a year (and even better 2-3) between pregnancies, because women do need time to build up nutrient stores again.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Teri

    Another waste of money, effort, and time. Maybe people who have kids close together are low-income or less educated or have other factors that may increase the risk of autism. How many first borns or only children have autism? Space between pregnancies would not be a factor in those cases. Perhaps parents with children close together have less time to devote to the younger child and that somehow triggers it. Maybe being raised around older kids stimulates the younger child more and that helps prevent it. There could be a million other explanations – maybe's and what if's – and this article touches on none of them.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      Im sorry, are you suggesting those of us who have children close together are mostly low income? How about those of us who struggled for years at great expense to get pregnant and by the grace of God had a second child come sooner than anticipated??? We are low income now because of Autism. I certainly did not neglect my second child. Are we back to the old theory of the "refrigerator" mom? If you don't have something educated to say, don't bother.

      January 10, 2011 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • Doug

      Teri: You obviously did not read the actual research article (only the CNN summary), so how do you know that the researchers did not address the issues that you talk about? In fact, they explicitly controlled for demographic issues such as income.

      As for your other theories (essentially that the childrearing environment may be different for second kids born close to a sibling) - you seem to be missing the whole point of the study. The authors are not saying that spacing per se is the cause of autism, they are saying that it may provide clues to the cause. The goal of this study was to identify a pattern (that kid spacing affects autism rates). Now that they have identified this pattern, they can try to figure out things that could be affected by kid spacing (health of the mother, childrearing environment, etc), thereby potentially uncovering a real cause of autism.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
    • Rocksor

      Actually Teri, studies have shown that more educated couples and those with money have a higher likelihood that they have a child with ASD.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • Nikki

      so your saying poor, dumb people have autistic children?? Teri if anyone is less educated it would be you to make this comment. Autism can happen to anyone from any ethnic or social background both rich and poor. My guess is your not a mother, you have no link to anyone with a child with Autism and if you do you'd probably look down on those people right? You need to wake up and read some actual facts.

      January 10, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse |
  20. Audrey DeHart

    This malarky distributed to the news media by "Autism Speaks" headed by Dr. Andy Shih is just that, malarky. I had three children three years apart, beginning in 1951. In my second marriage I had one child, a year later, twins, and a year later another child. Not one had autism.
    Autism came along when immunization shots were combined to save time. I am 81 years old and have noticed when autism came on the scene. Doctors will not admit that mercury in these sots are the p roblem. On the other hand, we are told to guard against tuna which contains mercury. The brain doesn't know how to accept mercury in the body, in order words, the body cannot process it. Time to be sensible and go back to the old way of immunizations, that is, spacing them and using the time to do so. Folate does not prevent autism. I was very anemic when I was younger. Had the lack of folate were the cause of autism, I would have had seven children with autism. Please, doctors, get it right.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joelmama

      If we funded Autism research the way we fund Aids research we wouldn't be grasping at straws, we would KNOW what causes Autism and how to prevent it. Autism steals your child away- wake up and demand more research from your Congressional leaders.

      January 10, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Mercury causing autism seemed like a reasonable theory, but the evidence no longer supports it. About a decade ago, the amount of mercury was dramatically reduced in vaccines (the multiple-dose flu shot is the only one still made with it, and even this one can be requested without). Even after mercury was removed, autism rates continued to rise.

      January 10, 2011 at 12:53 | Report abuse |
    • T. Charles

      There is no compelling evidence to back this up. We could just as easily say that increasing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leads to greater incidence of autism, as the graph of autism frequency somewhat correlates with the rise of CO2 through the burning of fossil fuels. I dont' think there is any correlation, but I am just making the point that two unrelated factors may coincide even though there is not connection between them.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:06 | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      I think the increase in autism rates is because children with high functioning autism or Aspergers are instead of just being labeled "slow" or stupid are included on the autism spectrum and are getting the social skills help that they need.

      January 10, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • So Cal Native

      Immunizations DO NOT CAUSE AUTISM!! Let us get that clear! That ridiculous study has been retracted & dismissed! Autism will never be cured & no one will find the "cause"...regardless of how much $$ is spent...its just wasted actually! We need better programs and early detection...

      January 10, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
  21. mother of 6

    This study is not even a little bit believable. I am elderly and have known many many friends and relatives who had large families close together including me (before birth control). I have never known any of their children or mine to be autistic. Lets see if CNN ridicules this study like they did Dr. Wakefield's. Oh wait, no big pharmaceutical company involved here so its OK.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nicole

      You're right. My grandmother had 13 kids closely spaced; not one is on the spectrum.

      January 10, 2011 at 08:54 | Report abuse |
    • notmyrealname

      Neither one of you has a clue that anecdotes don't mean a thing. This is about statistics, you idiots. Grow a freakin' brain.

      January 10, 2011 at 17:33 | Report abuse |
    • Kate

      You cannot compare the incidence of autism from 10, 15 or 20 years ago to today. Autism just wan't a big deal back then. Kids that were autisic were labeled as weird, off, socially distant, etc. It's only in the past few years that this disease has been spotlighted...and with it the diagnostic tools have imrpoved.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:12 | Report abuse |
  22. NSP

    Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh. More food for paranoia. Enough already, people.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Nicole

    I thought they said that autism is more common in first borns? Every week there's a new study that will be discredited by the following week's study and so on & so forth. One week: eggs are bad for you because they increase cholesterol; next week: nutrients in egg yolk is important to prevent cancer (ok, no problem); following week: eggs DO NOT raise cholesterol (hmm?)

    January 10, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • T. Charles

      There are more firstborns with autism because many people have only one child. Even if every child has an equal risk of autism, then firstborns will make up the bulk of cases because they are the largest population.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:08 | Report abuse |
  24. David

    @HAHAHAHA; Where do you do your reading? I've never heard of these "Links" ever. Pot?, Lubricants? Drunk? STD's and the medicine for them...If any one of these are true we would be up to our neck with Autistic people. It's like that study which links how close you live to a busy road while carrying is linked to Autism. Well I live in the country and my only child, a girl, is Autistic, so much for the busy road and closely spaced pregnancy theory.

    January 10, 2011 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. WENDY

    I have 2 children who are about 13 mo. apart in age. My daughter (youngest) is severely Autistic. I had always wanted to have 2 or 3 children, and always wanted them to be no more than 14 mo. apart. I am the youngest of 2, and when I was growing up, my brother (3 1/2 yrs. older) always acted as if he was an adult as far as I was concerned, kind of treating me as if I was a little baby. This is why I wanted my kids to be close in age. When I saw this on CNN, naturally it was disturbing to me, having planned things this way. However, I think more studies need to be done, including more studies on this (closeness of pregnancies) before it can really be taken seriously. I think other factors that need to be considered are environmental ones (including vaccines), genetic ones, the age of the mother (I was 36 when she was born), and perhaps whether or not the birth was a c-section (my daughter was). There are so many things to consider, it is mind boggling. It is disturbing to have a child with such a serious problem and not know what caused it.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Lee

    If being born too soon after an older sibling were the main reason, then why wasn't autisim rampant during the Baby Boom, when women had more childern and closer together than women today? It seems to me that after the advent of the Pill, autism rates would have dropped dramatically and that autism would have been rampant in the past. It seems that just the opposite is true.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      Because it's a factor in autism. This report does not state that it is the cause.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:14 | Report abuse |
  27. StayAtHome

    Ha! It is my FIRST child that has autism!

    January 10, 2011 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Gerald

    By this study's say so. Closer pregnancies equate higher Autism. Does not make sense. Though I am a guy and not a doctor. I think the study needs further work. I am one of the many baby boomers (age 55 born in 1956). Catholic family with nine siblings. I went to school with large classes of kids who had also come from 7,8,9 and 10 (Our family). All the way up to 15 kids. Yet Autism was not an issue of our generation that was occurring as is in the last thirty years. Downs Syndrom was more likely to have happened. So why do the numbers jump higher now than back when our parents were having the babies?

    January 10, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Gabor47

    As a practicing physician I am appalled the way the media handles (and publishes) poorly researched, not proven at all assumptions, scaring the daylight out of people.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Matt

    If the mother wasn't quite sharp enough to learn her lesson from the first pregnancy, maybe the mental defect is genetic instead of environmental?

    January 10, 2011 at 09:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. KC

    Dr. Judy Mikovits has lectured about the connection between autism and the XMRV virus. Google it.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jenna

      And every single one of these studies have been highly discredited! All of the data was faked or over-exaggerated! Before trying to promote results gained from improper research, do some background work to make sure YOU aren't the one who will end up propagating false information. You are just as much to blame as the universities involved with the original research..

      January 10, 2011 at 12:10 | Report abuse |
  32. Christine

    Interesting....I have a friend with an autistic child. She was conceived two months after the mother suffered a miscarriage (@ 8 weeks after conception).

    January 10, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Linda

    I strongly disagree with this casually observed findings. My two younger sisters, Angie is 13 months older than my sister Janet (my Mom was 26 years old when Janet was born while I was born when Mom was 21 years old).
    Both sisters have advanced degrees in science. However, Janet hot her Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry four years after her BS when she was 26. Her birthday is in January so she is a few months older than her peers all along her school years but she is always smarter than her peers even in graduate school. Tell me this study.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      So what? That's not the point of this article...

      January 10, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse |
  34. Ilauria

    I know of a family that had eight children. Out of all of those children they have all had some autoimmune disorder and three of the eight families have had kids with autism. May be a link there.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Christine

    If that was the case then all the children born before birth control and all the Catholic's 2nd babys would have it. I still think too many shots are the problem.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kate

      Did you actually read the article?? It doesn't say that all 2nd children have autism. It says it's a factor.

      January 10, 2011 at 18:17 | Report abuse |
  36. 10km

    Hmm... Of my ten children, six were conceived within a year of the next oldest sibling. None of them is anywhere on the autism scale, and none of them has ever displayed symptoms of ADHD.

    January 10, 2011 at 09:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Sandy

    I don't buy it. The rise of autism is recent, but historically families had many more children. Often these children were spaced close together - in the days before birth control, pregnancies were typically two to three years apart. If the study's conclusions were true we would be looking at less autism today, not more. Ignoring the historical record and focusing on statistics derived from a single study is myopic and misleading.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Nancy

    This can not be the link they are searching for. In my mother and grandmother's years, each had 13 children winting a year apart and no signs of autism in any child. My friend's mother has 19 children with 16 living including 2 sets of twins and triplets with no signs of autism all withing this same range. In those years they had many children to work the farms and there were many others whom had as m,any if not more. I can not find any correlation between spacing of births and would fully challenge the study.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. lemon

    I've always wondered if autism is linked to the mother's immune system during pregnancy. We know that viral infections and antibodies during pregnancy can affect fetal neurological development (cytomegalovirus, etc.) I wonder if there is as yet unknown herpes virus or other type of virus circulating which causes a long duration rise in antibodies and thus would affect fetal development over a span of several years?

    January 10, 2011 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gdnght10


      January 10, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
  40. Restraint Please

    I don't have an autistic kid but many friends do. I know it's hard to be in that situation but time and time again I hear anger and pain distort the comprehension of science. These people are trying to help you. Stop screaming at them with a fraction of the information you would need to actually challenge their findings. Being a mother of one or two autistic kids does not make you an expert on autism. It makes you an expert on your family's experience with autism. You are one of millions so please, for the sake of society, let the experts do their work without throwing eggs at them.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Pete Larson

    This study does not say that people who have one child, or children closely spaced together NEVER get an autism diagnosis. It merely says that, when taking all other factors into account, closely spaced children have an elevated likelihood of having autism.

    I am disturbed that even parents who have autistic children think that scientific research into the potential causes of autism is a useless venture. Clearly, there are no easy answers, despite the mass hope that there is.

    The medical community largely still doesn't fully understand how cardiovascular disease occurs, despite it's incredible presence. More research has led to more options for treatment and prevention.

    Perhaps you would wish that everyone just stop trying? I'm sorry for your child's condition, very sorry, but understand that there are many out there desperately searching for ways to keep other parents from going through the incredible challenges that you face.

    January 10, 2011 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Adamz75

    If infants communicate by crying and wiggling their hands and feet, what happens to them when placed in a daycare facility that never picks them up, when crying? One day my 6 month old grandaughter was crying on her bavck in the sun room. I asked her 27 month old sister "Emily, when Molly is crying at daycare does anybody pick her up"? "No grandpa". Not ever do they pick her up"? "Not ever grandpa". From that day forward little Molly hardly ever left her mother's arms. Soon afterwards her mom the pediatrician changed her daycare service. An infant needs to be held.

    January 10, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Kim

    My husband and I's daughters are 11 and a half months apart (almost 3 and 4 years now). The youngest one is nonverbal with a dx of Autism. I'm just registering what I read but I feel like I was just punched in the gut. I'm devastated by this study and all that keeps going through my head is, "It's my fault. This is all my fault". I don't know how much weight to put into this study as of yet until I look more into the logistics and methods etc, but emotionally...it affects me profoundly. As others have posted, there have been many families with children as close in age without having any on the spectrum, as there are families with children spaced more than three years apart that are now living with autism. But still, I can't even begin how devastated I feel right now that this may potentially be a causative factor. As far as the statement: "Another theory is that autism is detected and diagnosed more easily when siblings are close in age and developmental differences are more recognizable." This is something I completely agree with. I knew my daughter had autism at 11 months old, even when no one else could recognize it, including family members and our pediatrician. I attribute this to the theory above (although my experience of being a social worker also helped). Thanks for letting me vent in this post. Time to go pick up my daughter from her ABA therapy.

    January 10, 2011 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • So Cal Native

      Kim – it is NOT YOUR FAULT! Please dont live w/guilt that is not yours...as far as ABA therapy, its not all its cracked up to be...special edu. teachers have been doing these things in class for years, its another name for the same things we always have been doing...token economy, picture schedules, etc. Its just a way for people to exploit & make money off the disabled and special edu. in the school system.

      January 10, 2011 at 17:24 | Report abuse |
  44. Chris

    One cannot compare the autism rates of a generation ago to today's rates. The reason is because the criteria for diagnosing and treating autism today is very different than it was back 20 years ago. During the "boomers" age the mentally retarded were put in homes, today that doesn't happen since we know many of the mentally challenged can lead productive lives, on their own.
    The uptick in autism rates over the last decade or two probably has more to do with better diagnostics rather than an actual increase in rates. However, even if we assume that the increase has nothing to do with better diagnostics there are many things in the last two or three decades that have changed both genetically and environmentally. The spacing of children not being one of them. And although it's clear some of you didn't read the article that said they controlled for factors such as race, SES etc and still had statistically significant results (which I am guessing is a confidence level around 95%) this research probably needs to be replicated like any good research (which is why that stupid vaccine study is bunch of junk science, low sample size, unable to replicate results etc).

    January 10, 2011 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Matt

    This report/ study can't be right, I have two daughters that are 4 years apart and they both have autism.

    January 10, 2011 at 12:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. aleppo1091

    Why this will never catch on: Who can the parents sue if not the doctor or a vaccine company? Too many parents of challenged children only see their value through dollar signs.

    January 10, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • gdnght10

      yeah, it's definitely the money grubbing parents of autistic children that see dollar signs. Let's see.... articles about doctor's criminally faking the vaccine links comes out a few days ago, now it's having multiple kids too close together. Good timing CNN, CDC, Glaxo SmithKline, and Merck!

      January 10, 2011 at 13:10 | Report abuse |
    • gdnght10

      Oh, and don't forget to get your flu shots. I see there was a link under health and their importance. Some of the same companies involved there as well.

      January 10, 2011 at 13:34 | Report abuse |
    • notmyrealname

      gnight, you're dumber than a box of hair.

      January 10, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
  47. Wanda

    So not true!!

    January 10, 2011 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mom with Austistic child

    My theory is that there is a link to loss of embryonic fluid during pregnancy. As a mother of an autistic child, I've met tons of other mothers who lost embryonic fluid during their pregancies. Some might not even be aware of small loses. Just my unofficial theory. Someone please research this, thanks!

    January 10, 2011 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Terry Poling

    An obvious question comes to mind....if one is pregnant and is to avoid rubella during pregnancy (because it can lead to a child with autism), then, why would it not make sense that a live virus vaccine (MMR) being given to the infant/toddler sibling would not put a pregnant mom at risk of transferring to her unborn child along with all of mom's antibodies as well? (Afterall, mom is changing diapers, cuddlling, bathing, soothing, treating rashes and injection sites, etc., which may be contagious).

    I do not think this question has been asked or answered. I may be wrong but would love to see the science on it if I am....

    January 10, 2011 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WoodUshutup?

      Where is there proof that rubella causes autism?

      January 10, 2011 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
  50. Audrey Carlson

    I disagree with the findings. My children were born fourteen years apart. My first does not have autism, but my second does. I have gone to an organic diet for my son. He no longer openly shows signs of autism. There may not be a cure, but I was able to help him by taking chemicals out of his diet.

    January 10, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
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