What Is Autism and What Increases Your Child’s Risk for Autism?

Autism is a complex disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. It causes delays in cognitive, language, and social development. Autism symptoms appear at an early age, and they last lifelong. However, there are chances of the symptoms appearing later in life. The leading cause of autism remains unknown, but certain risk factors can increase the chances of developing it.

Sex Is a Risk Factor for Autism

Sex is a risk factor for autism. Male children are more likely to be autistic than female children, and the reason for this is that males receive an X chromosome from their mother and an X chromosome from their father.

The X chromosome is present in males and females, but it is a double dose in males. This creates a higher risk for autism because an extra dose of the X chromosome can make it difficult for your child to process language or social cues as easily as someone without this extra dose would be able to do so.

It’s also important to note that females aren’t immune to having issues with processing language or social cues either. They have less chance of experiencing these symptoms than males due to having only one X chromosome instead of two like males do. They are five times less likely than male children to develop autism, according to a study published in the Nature Journal.

Mother’s Consumption of Tylenol During Pregnancy

Recent research has suggested that mothers who consume Tylenol during pregnancy may be at an increased risk of having a child with autism. A study published on the NCBI website shows that prenatal exposure to Tylenol can increase the risk of the baby developing autism by 19% and that of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by 21%.

This risk factor has been linked to the presence of acetaminophen in the mother’s system during pregnancy, which can cross the placental barrier and affect the developing fetus. While the exact mechanism is still unknown, it is clear that pregnant mothers should be aware of the potential risks associated with consuming Tylenol during pregnancy.

It is essential to speak with a medical professional to discuss any potential risks and to determine the best course of action for the health of the mother and her baby. However, if you were unaware of this during pregnancy and your child has developed autism due to prenatal exposure to autism, you can seek legal help.

There’s an ongoing Tylenol autism lawsuit filed by people whose children or loved ones had developed autism due to prenatal Tylenol exposure. If you are facing such a situation, you can find an experienced attorney to help you file the Tylenol autism lawsuit claim on your behalf. The experience will also come in handy for collecting evidence to prove the connection between Tylenol exposure and autism.

Preterm Birth

Preterm birth refers to a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have had a preterm birth, your child’s risk for autism is higher than if you have not. The exact risk depends on how many weeks early your baby was born, but it may be as high as six times more for an early-born child versus a full-term sibling.

This is concluded in an NCBI study. According to the study, the autism prevalence rate for highly preterm babies was 6.1%. This was followed by a 2.6% prevalence rate for moderate preterm, 1.9% for late preterm, and 2.1% for all preterm.

While researchers don’t understand why this is, they know premature babies are more likely to suffer infections and other health problems during infancy than full-term babies. Some research has also suggested that premature infants might have reduced brain volume at birth compared to full-term infants, making them even more vulnerable to developing autism later in life.

The good news? There are some things you can do now and throughout pregnancy to reduce the risk of having an early delivery:

  • Getting early and regular prenatal care can help identify and manage potential problems that could lead to preterm birth.
  • Avoiding certain behaviors: Avoiding tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs can help reduce the risk of preterm birth.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Gaining the right amount during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of preterm birth.
  • Practicing good hygiene: Washing your hands frequently and avoiding people who are sick can help reduce the risk of infection, which can lead to preterm birth.
  • Managing stress: High-stress levels can increase the risk of preterm birth, so it is essential to find ways to manage stress during pregnancy. This is proven clinically in mice. According to a study published in the Frontiers journal, prenatal maternal stress lead to preterm birth and affected neonatal immunity in mice.
  • Avoiding certain activities: Certain activities, such as heavy lifting and contact sports, can increase the risk of preterm birth. Talking to your healthcare provider about what activities are safe during pregnancy is essential.

Children Born to Older Parents Are at a Risk of Autism

Recent research has found that children born to older parents are at a higher risk of developing autism. Data shows that they have a 50% higher chance of developing autism. This risk increases with the parents’ age. This risk is thought to be due to genetic mutations in older sperm and eggs, which can lead to an increased risk of autism in the child.

Additionally, older parents may have less energy and resources to devote to their children, which can contribute to an increased risk of autism. While this risk is concerning, it is essential to remember that most children born to older parents will not develop autism and that the risk can be reduced with early intervention and support.


It’s important to understand that while these risk factors can increase the risk of autism, they don’t always mean your child will develop the disorder. In fact, there’s no one cause of autism, meaning there are many different ways that children get it. 

But even though you can’t prevent your child from developing autism if he or she has any of these risk factors, knowing about them may help you prepare for what’s ahead and provide extra support.

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