The Association Between Parental Age and Autism-Related Outcomes in Children at High Familial Risk for Autism

Kristen Lyall, Lanxin Song, Kelly Botteron, Lisa A. Croen, Stephen R. Dager, M. Daniele Fallin, Heather C. Hazlett, Elizabeth Kauffman, Rebecca Landa, Christine Ladd-Acosta, Daniel S. Messinger, Sally Ozonoff, Juhi Pandey, Joseph Piven, Rebecca J. Schmidt, Robert T. Schultz, Wendy L. Stone, Craig J. Newschaffer, Heather E. Volk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Advanced parental age is a well-replicated risk factor for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental condition with a complex and not well-defined etiology. We sought to determine parental age associations with ASD-related outcomes in subjects at high familial risk for ASD. A total of 397 younger siblings of a child with ASD, drawn from existing prospective high familial risk cohorts, were included in these analyses. Overall, we did not observe significant associations of advanced parental age with clinical ASD diagnosis, Social Responsiveness Scale, or Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales scores. Instead, increased odds of ASD were found with paternal age < 30 years (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.83 and 95% confidence intervals [CI] = 1.14–7.02). Likewise, younger age (<30 years) for both parents was associated with decreases in Mullen Scales of Early Learning early learning composite (MSEL-ELC) scores (adjusted β = −9.62, 95% CI = −17.1 to −2.15). We also found significant increases in cognitive functioning based on MSEL-ELC scores with increasing paternal age (adjusted β associated with a 10-year increase in paternal age = 5.51, 95% CI = 0.70–10.3). Results suggest the potential for a different relationship between parental age and ASD-related outcomes in families with elevated ASD risk than has been observed in general population samples. Autism Res 2020, 13: 998-1010.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)998-1010
Number of pages13
JournalAutism Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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