Science, via Yahoo! Shine, has identified new risk factors for autism or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs), like having a dad who makes bank.
Fathers who worked in finance were four times more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum than those with the nontechnical jobs (which could include those in media, education, or sales industries, for example). And those who worked in health care (working in a medical lab, for example) were six times more likely. A mother’s job held no association to autistic offspring unless both she and her husband worked in technical fields. In that case, their children were at a higher risk of developing a more severe case of autism.
Other correlations: “advanced” age of the father, “advanced” age of the mother, advanced age of the grandparents, parents’ educational levels and possibly socioeconomic status. I’ve now found studies that say high (in America) and low socioeconomic status (in Sweden) correlate with autism, so those might cancel each other out. Interesting questions remain. Do ASD clusters in highly-educated American communities like LA and San Francisco mean only that more parents there can afford to send their children to specialists for diagnosis? Do fathers with a high-functioning version of ASD themselves tend to work in certain lucrative fields, marry and reproduce later, and pass their genes on to their children? Are ASDs more common now that parents, especially well-educated and higher-income ones do on average wait longer to produce the next generation, since “advanced” age is a risk factor? Or do we just recognize the symptoms better now that we know what to look for?
FWIW, the costs of ASDs are considerable: “Harvard researchers estimate that the added costs of autism-related healthcare and education average more than $17,000 per child per year in the United States.”
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