Parental Age at Conception and the Relationship with Severity of Autism Symptoms

Robert D. Rieske, Idaho State University , Pocatello, ID, USA.
Johnny L. Matson, Louisiana State University , Baton Rouge, LA, USA.


BACKGROUND: Previous research has examined the relationship between advanced parental age at conception and the incidence of autism, and has noted strong relationships between advanced parental age and other developmental disabilities. AIM: The purpose of this study was to confirm that and extend that knowledge to the association between advanced parental age and severity of autism symptoms as measured by a parental report of ASD symptom severity. METHODS: The current study included 252 participants between the ages of 2-17 years and their parents. RESULTS: Child's gender and paternal age were found to be significant predictors of autism severity with males and children with older fathers at conception showing the highest severity. Interestingly, maternal age was not found to be a significant predictor of autism risk or severity of symptoms in this sample. CONCLUSION: Possible explanations for these findings are discussed, as well as future directions for research in this area.