Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 523–533 | Cite as

Maternal Psychiatric Disorder and the Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder or Intellectual Disability in Subsequent Offspring

  • Jenny FairthorneEmail author
  • Geoff Hammond
  • Jenny Bourke
  • Nick de Klerk
  • Helen Leonard
Original Paper


Psychiatric disorders are more common in the mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (ID) after the birth of their child. We aimed to assess the relationship between women’s psychiatric contacts and subsequent offspring with ASD/ID. We linked three Western Australian registers to investigate pre-existing maternal outpatient psychiatric contacts and the odds of ASD/ID in a subsequent child. Women with a previous outpatient psychiatric contact were more than twice as likely to have a child with ASD [OR 2.07 (95 % CI 1.7, 2.6)] or ID [OR 2.31 (2.1, 2.6)]. Further research exploring the effect on pregnancy outcomes of medications prescribed to women with psychiatric disorders is implicated.


Autism Intellectual Psychiatric Mothers Pre-existing Prenatal medication 



The authors are grateful to the Disability Services Commission, the Telethon Kids Institute, the Western Australia Department of Education, the Catholic Education Office and the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia for assistance with data collection for the IDEA database. This study was supported by Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Program Grant #572742.

Author Contributions

All authors participated in the conception and planning of the study, Dr Fairthorne, Dr Hammond and Professor de Klerk provided statistical input to the methods and Dr Fairthorne performed all statistical calculations.Dr Fairthorne wrote the initial draft and all co-authors provided input on subsequent versions.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

10803_2015_2594_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Australia 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Telethon Kids InstituteUniversity of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Health Department of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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