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Study: Spacing Babies Close May Raise Autism Risk

Close birth spacing may put a second-born child at higher risk for autism, suggests a preliminary study based on more than a half-million California children.

Children born less than two years after their siblings were considerably more likely to have an autism diagnosis compared to those born after at least three years.

The sooner the second child was conceived the greater the likelihood of that child later being diagnosed with autism. The effect was found for parents of all ages, decreasing the chance that it was older parents and not the birth spacing behind the higher risk.

"That was pretty shocking to us, to be honest," said senior author Peter Bearman of Columbia University in New York. The researchers took into account other risk factors for autism and still saw the effect of birth spacing.

The sooner the second child was conceived the greater the likelihood of that child later being diagnosed with autism. The effect was found for parents of all ages.

This program aired on January 10, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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