New Autism Speaks Study Links Parental Age to Autism

Law Firm Newswire



San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) August 21, 2015 – In Autism Speaks’ largest international study on autism risk and parental age, researchers have found that teenage mothers and older parents are the most likely to have children with autism.

Autism rates were 15 percent higher when moms gave birth in their 40s, 66 percent higher for kids with dads over 50 years old and 18 percent higher for children of teen moms. Increased autism rates were also noted among children born to couples with large age gaps and when both parents were older, in comparison to parents in their 20s.

The study examined the national health records of more than 5.7 million children in Denmark, Israel, Norway, Sweden and Western Australia, of which 30,000 had autism. The results were published in the Molecular Psychiatry journal.

In light of the results and the increasing number of couples choosing to have children later in life, planning for the future becomes even more essential.
“Caring for a child with autism may be a lifelong endeavor with considerably high expenses such as health care, therapy and housing. Parents are often concerned about how their children’s financial needs will be met when they are no longer around,” said Michael Gilfix, nationally known special needs attorney and the principal attorney at Gilfix and La Poll Associates. According to Gilfix, the key is to create a long-term plan to take care of these costs by exploring the option of setting up a special needs trust.

Parents of autistic children face unique challenges when addressing their long-term needs, especially when the child is unable to work or live independently. In such cases, a special needs trust is a useful tool that provides lifelong financial stability without interfering with eligibility for government benefits.
“Special needs trusts are used to supplement public benefits and pay for services that the public benefits system is not able to provide. Assets in a special needs trust do not affect eligibility for government programs such as Medi-Cal and Supplemental Security Income. A special needs planning attorney can help a concerned parent or guardian gain a better understanding of the options available to ensure a child’s needs are met,” said Gilfix.