A new study by Dr Keely Cheslack-Postava, of Columbia University, New York, has shown that women who become pregnant again within a year of giving birth could be putting their next child at an increased risk of Autism.
Such babies are three more times likely to have the developmental disorder according to researchers, who state that women's bodies need time to recover from a pregnancy, with the result that children conceived too quickly after childbirth are more likely to be deprived of vital nutrients.
Based on a study of 600,000 California families, the results help prove that closely spaced pregnancies can be dangerous. British doctors, however state there is no reason to panic and stressed that the chances of any baby developing autism is very remote. But they have also advised mothers to leave a gap of at least a year in between having a baby and getting pregnant again.
Published in the respected medical journal Pediatrics, the study looked at the incidence of autism among 663,000 second born children in California born between 1992 and 2002. The results of this study suggest that children born after shorter intervals between pregnancies are at6 an increased risk of developing autism.
The highest risk was associated with pregnancies spaced less than one year apart. Second children conceived within a year of an older sibling's birth were 3.4 times more likely to have autism than a typical child of the same age.
Babies conceived 12 to 23 months after the first child were 1.9 times more likely to have autism, whilst a gap of two to three years between pregnancies increased the risk 1.2 times.
The overall reason for this, according to the study, is that closely spaced pregnancies increased the risk that a baby missed out on nutrients, particularly Folate, needed during pregnancy, in addition to other considerations such as maternal levels of iron, polyunsaturated fatty acids and stress.