Children of parents in technical jobs at higher risk for autism

May 15, 2014, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

Children of fathers who are in technical occupations are more likely to have an autism spectrum disorder, according to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

The findings will be presented Friday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Atlanta.

During participation in the LoneStar LEND program, first author Aisha S. Dickerson, Ph.D., a researcher at UTHealth's Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences, used the United States government's Standard Occupational Classification system. Parents were divided into those who had more non-people-oriented jobs (technical) or more people-oriented jobs (non-technical).

Fathers who worked in engineering were two times as likely to have a child with an (ASD). Those who worked in finance were four times more likely and those who worked in health care occupations were six times more likely to have a child on the autism spectrum.

There was no association with a mother's occupation. However, children who had both parents in technical fields were at a higher risk of having a more severe form of autism.

"Parental occupation could be indicative of autistic-like behaviors and preferences and serve as another factor in a clinician's diagnosis of a child with suspected autism. Medical students can be taught that this is one of the things to consider," Dickerson said.

Senior author of the paper, "Role of Parental Occupation in Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis and Severity," is Pauline A. Filipek, M.D., professor and director of the Autism Center at the UTHealth Medical School's Children's Learning Institute. UTHealth co-authors include Deborah Pearson, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Katherine Loveland, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and professor at The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston; and Mohammad Hossein Rahbar, Ph.D., director of the Division of Clinical and Translational Sciences in the Department of Internal Medicine and professor of epidemiology and biostatics in the UTHealth School of Public Health.

Explore further: Both maternal and paternal age linked to autism

More information: www.autism-insar.org/

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katesisco
not rated yet May 15, 2014
That has been suspected for some time; that higher stress jobs are the markers for child autism.
The recent research on bullying is giving a clue; the bullied have high stress (inflammation) and the bullies--surprise---gain low stress by being king of the heap.
Our society seems ill suited for healthy low stress people.
public1
5 / 5 (1) May 16, 2014
It appears that this study did not use a probabilistic sample, although none of the published information indicates whether or not this is the case. It appears that subjects were voluntary participants in a program about autism, which is inherently prone to significant biases.

Unless the study used a proper probabilistic sample, it cannot make any conclusions about children of parents in technical jobs being at higher risk for autism, and the published conclusions are therefore incorrect.

If anyone has information regarding the sampling methodology, in particular information showing that it is indeed a probabilistic sample, please clarify in an updated press release.

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