Another expert said the new study could raise as many questions as it answers.
Although the researchers offer theories as to how a man's age might affect the risk for autism in his descendants, "more research is needed to better understand how this occurs," said Alycia Halladay, senior director for environmental and clinical sciences at the advocacy group Autism Speaks. "For example, it could be through modifications of DNA, or it could result from environmental factors modifying how DNA is expressed," she said.
"This study is important because it utilizes rich datasets with health record information," Halladay added. "This approach can open the door for future work on genetic and environmental factors associated with [autism spectrum disorders]."
Find out more about autism spectrum disorders at the American Psychiatric Association.
SOURCES: Andrew Adesman, M.D., chief, developmental & behavioral pediatrics, Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, New Hyde Park; Abraham Reichenberg, M.D., Ph.D., fellow, Seaver Center for Autism Research and Treatment, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York City; Alycia Halladay, Ph.D., senior director, Environmental and Clinical Sciences, Autism Speaks; March 20, 2013, JAMA Psychiatry
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