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Parents of children with autism curtail reproduction after signs of disorder

The JAMA Network Journals

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appear to curtail attempts to have more children after the first signs of the disorder manifest or a diagnosis is made.

ASD is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. Few studies have focused on reproductive stoppage by parents after a child is diagnosed with ASD or symptoms appear.

Authors identified patients with ASD born from 1990 through 2003 in California. A total of 19,710 families in which the first birth occurred during the study period were identified. The families included 39,361 individuals (siblings and half-siblings). A group of 36,215 control families (including 75,724 individuals) also were identified that had no individuals with an ASD diagnosis.

For the first few years after the birth of a child with ASD, parents' reproductive behavior was similar to that of the control families. But birth rates differed in subsequent years with families whose first child had ASD having a second child at a rate of 0.668 that of control families. Women who changed partners had a slightly stronger curtailment in reproduction with a relative rate of 0.553 for a second child.

"These results are, to our knowledge, the first to quantify reproductive stoppage in families affected by ASD by using a large, population-based sample of California families."


Authors: Thomas J. Hoffmann, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues.

(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online June 18, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.420. Available pre-embargo to the media at

Editor's Note: This work was supported by funds from the Institute for Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco and by a grant from the National Cancer Institute. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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