Autism spectrum disorder affects children of all races and nationalities, but certain factors increase a child's risk. They include:

  • Your child's sex. Boys are about four times more likely to develop ASD than girls are.
  • Family history. Families who have one child with ASD have an increased risk of having another child with the disorder. It's also not uncommon for parents or relatives of a child with ASD to have minor problems with social or communication skills themselves or to engage in certain behaviors typical of ASD.
  • Other disorders. Children with certain medical conditions have a higher than normal risk of ASD or ASD-like symptoms. Examples of these conditions include fragile X syndrome, an inherited disorder that causes intellectual problems; tuberous sclerosis, a condition in which benign tumors develop in the brain; the neurological disorder Tourette syndrome; and Rett syndrome, a genetic condition occurring almost exclusively in girls, which causes slowing of head growth, intellectual disability and loss of purposeful hand use.
  • Extremely preterm babies. Babies born before 26 weeks of pregnancy may have a greater risk of ASD.
  • Parents' ages. There may also be a connection between children born to older parents and ASD, but more research is necessary to establish this link.
Jun. 03, 2014

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.