By Michelle Diament
May 20, 2014
What type of job a parent holds may influence their child’s odds of having autism, new research suggests.
In particular, fathers who work in fields deemed technical — or those requiring less social interaction — appear to be more likely to have children with autism, researchers say.
The findings were presented at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Atlanta last week.
For the study, researchers looked at parents of 273 children with autism ages 7 to 18. They used the federal government’s Standard Occupational Classification system to divide parents into two groups — those with technical jobs requiring little social interaction versus those with non-technical jobs that are more people-oriented.
Dads working in engineering are twice as likely to have a child with the developmental disorder while those in finance are four times more likely, the study found. Meanwhile, fathers working in the health care field have six times higher odds of their child being on the spectrum.
What’s more, while there was no direct association related specifically to a mother’s line of work, children with both parents working in technical fields were found to be at higher risk of having a more severe form of autism, researchers said.
“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,” said Aisha Dickerson of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston who led the study.