The risks associated with having another child

Why did I leave Autism out of the title?

Well, that’s because there are far more risks to every childbirth than just Autism. There’s the chance of a still birth, cancer, down syndrome and a whole host of other disorders, illnesses, ailments and can have a child growing up in a hospital somewhere. In some cases, a death sentence. Some children are born with cancer that kills them 2 or 3 years after birth.

What a harsh way to start a blog post right? I know. But I think that sometimes we Autism parents can forget the realities of our situation… there are people out there who have it so much worse.

The reason for this post is that many people have concern over recent findings in a study that I covered earlier today on this blog: Autism Study of The Month: Recurrence Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study

riskThe risks of any younger sibling

That being said, that there are a large number of risks, you have to realize that any and all of those birth risks are possible in all births. That means, the first child you have has a risk.

Knowing that, any child you have afterwards has an increased risk.

How do I know that?

Well, if there’s a 10% risk of a disorder at childbirth… then having 2 children means you have a 10% chance and a 10% chance.. a 20% chance.

That’s actually not quite right, satistically but for the argument of this article, it’s close enough.

You essentially double your chances by having a second child because you took the risk twice. That increases every time you have another child.

That’s for anything and everything… not just Autism.

What does it say when you don’t take the risk?

So you don’t want to take the risk of having a second child with Autism? Have you ever asked yourself: “Why is that?”

Let’s not pretend that having children with Autism is not hard and it certainly does cost a lot… we all know that.

But is that the real reason? Or is there something more to it? Let me put it this way: If you did have get pregnant a second time and discovered the child would be born with Autism, would you have an abortion?

Take some time to really think about it… is there some level of denial there? What does this say about your acceptance of your child with Autism?


For me personally, I love my son with Autism, not despite Autism. I think he’s amazing and has taught me a lot more in 6 years than I did in the 30 years prior.

Having a second child with or without Autism just does not seem like a risk to me.

I’ve had a few people on Twitter ask me what I thought of the recent findings… they asked me if I would take the risk or avoid the risk.

My response was this:

Decide whether or not to have another child with your heart, not your fears.

Ask yourself if you love your child. Ask yourself if you love your family. Ask yourself if you want to add another beautiful child to your family. Ask yourself what you heart is telling you.

Weigh the pros and cons, I’m not saying that there are no financial responsbilities or unforeseen risks that may arise but be aware that those finances and risks are always there, regardless of siblings or studies.

If no one had children for fear of the risks.. there would be no children.

About Stuart Duncan

My name is Stuart Duncan, creator of My oldest son (Cameron) has Autism while my younger son (Tyler) does not. I am a work from home web developer with a background in radio. I do my very best to stay educated and do what ever is necessary to ensure my children have the tools they need to thrive. I share my stories and experiences in an effort to further grow and strengthen the online Autism community and to promote Autism Understanding and Acceptance.

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15 Responses to The risks associated with having another child

  1. Hortencia August 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm #

    I totally agree with this post and your opinion. I am the mother of 3 beautiful children. the oldest without Autism and the younger ones with Autism. The younger two are 15 months apart so by the time I was getting my middle child tested I was already pregnant. By all means having 3 kids was what me and my husband wanted with Autism or without. They both make us learn something new everyday and we love all our kids equally.

  2. Tim September 5, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    My wife and I struggled with this more out of the fear that we wouldn’t be able to devote enough attention to both our children because of the litany of things we do on a daily basis here. I know numerous families where their autistic child is their last child, regardless of how many children they have, and I understand their decision. We deliberated a long time about whether we could realistically go through the daily therapy schedules with a second child – assuming he was autistic – while still taking care of the schedules of the first.

    The reality is that you can what-if yourself to death. What actually does happen will almost always be something other than what you expected. We got to where we decided that we still wanted a second child (we originally settled on that before we got married), trusted our strength as a couple and as a family, and believed in the capacity of love to grow to meet the needs of those it embraces.

    Our second son could not be more different from our first. He’s a little over two now, appears to be neurotypical, and has a personality to fill any room. They both do. He’s his own wonderful little person, and he taught me what I think is the answer to this question. Each of our sons is a unique creation. There was never any planning for who either would become. That was for us to discover as a family because we trusted our hearts in wanting a second child and that we would all be able to find our way along this journey together.

    Our hearts originally said years ago that we wanted two children, we chose to follow that, and we have these two amazing sons. They are both perfect, and we feel that our lives are manyfold richer now.

    Like you said, life is risk. There’s no way to predict anything. The best we can do is listen to our hearts and trust in the strength we have as a family, but that is a lot right there. In fact, I think it is everything.

  3. jane September 27, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I am struggling with this exact issue right now. My firstborn is over 4 years old and is on the spectrum. He is now doing amazingly well. About a year ago we started trying for another child, and two weeks ago I miscarried my pregnancy. The overall risks of trying again really intimidate me. Deciding with your heart, not your fears sounds like very good advice. I will try to follow it.

  4. leaf November 18, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    I want another child but get terrified of the possibility the second child being severely autistic. I don’t know what to do. So I googled about the topic and came across this article. Thank you so much. All of a sudden, I feel I am in control of my fears now.

  5. Ebo November 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    I’ve been feeling very odd about this. You are so right. Thanks you for your words and stance. I agree 100% I have a 2yr who has just been diagnosed and it has been a tough realization. But sometimes I can’t picture myself going through it again….but I can do it again and will if I have to. God makes no mistakes

  6. Jen January 28, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    I found out I was pregnant (surprise!) with my youngest son (who is now 3) when my oldest son (who is now 6) was starting the early intervention, diagnosis, etc. gauntlet. I distinctly remember uttering a curse word and feeling terrified when I saw the 2 pink lines appearing on the pregnancy test. I had to take more than a few moments and many prayers making the conscious choice to push away my fears (of miscarriage, of autism, of if I would be able to provide for my firstborn’s increasing needs with a baby to add to the equation). I decided ultimately all we can do is walk by faith, control is really an illusion. Anything can happen on any given day. Who has a life that turned out perfectly according to Plan A? Do we view those situations as irresponsible or reckless?
    Fast forward to where I am now, my oldest is doing remarkably well (although yes I still have those occasional days when I just sit in my car and cry or scream from frustration with some of his more severe behaviors), his little brother shows some Asperger’s like traits but when tested was only officially diagnosed as intellectually gifted, and the best part is that my youngest is the BEST THERAPY my oldest could ever have. My oldest son’s social skills, behavior, and communication skills started to parallel his younger brother’s and now they are on about the same developmental level (due to one being developmentally delayed and the other being intellectually advanced). He has the benefit of a buddy to play with, who can engage him in play like no adult ever has been able. Some of the rigid thought patterns have gone away as my oldest has been forced to learn to share a room, share toys, take turns, and get along with a brother. I believe a little brother was just what my oldest needed and to think that he would have never had that had I let my fears rule my decisions.
    Now we wonder about the possibility of having a third child, but due to the economy and our financial situation are deciding against it for now.

  7. Christina October 18, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Well thank you guys for your comments. I am a mother of a almost 5 years old boy diagnosed with medium to light autism. We started therapy at age 2. His learning abilities are very good as the teacher at school and his therapists tell me. He surprises them with his abilities and he is very smart. He likes to socialise and play with other kids but the problem is his approach and nervousness. he doesn’t listen to us, we have tried anything. he just gets hyper active, jumping and running and there is nothing that makes him stops…. and sometimes i loose it. This month we started trying for our second child and i am worried. my husband is more cool about it but i have some fears. But as a believer, i decided to count on God and enjoy whatever comes in our ways… thanks

  8. patricia May 29, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    I have a 6 year old daughter, high functioning autism, she is doing very well, after a lot of thinking we decided to have a second one now 7 months boy, and already showing signs of autism, seriously I could not feel more devastated and hopeless keep thinking if this one will be severe…..I completly regret having him, of course I love him but imagine 24 hours a day checking everything he does or doesn`t do….is exhausting ……just thinking to again go thru this kills me its really sad the pain is too much…..

    • jak May 12, 2015 at 4:42 am #

      Thank you for writing something REAL. I feel like a lot of people think its just a minor inconvenient drive to a therapist once a week when in reality autism is working like a slave with fecal and food issues 24/7 no breaks.. nothing.. I would not wish autism on anyone. It is NOT their personality it’s a disease. No one deserves to be autistic. And I am not including moderate to high functioning kids where it’s just quirky.. but REAL autism. it is devastating. Were I to torture a child like this on purpose.. not sure I could live with myself. Not sure what I would do

  9. Courtney May 30, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    This is a great post! I have thought long and hard about this as well. I have chosen not to have any more for a few reasons. I am not worried another will have autism. I am worried how Liam will react to being the only kiddo for 7 years, to being a sib. Also, I home school him, and do his therapies. That takes a lot of time. I don’t have time for a baby. I wouldn’t be able to give Liam the care he deserves. So, in our case, having another is out of the question bc it’s not fair to take my time or attention from Liam. Oh yeah, and also bc I have health issues, and the first pregnancy was very rough and high risk, and I don’t want to put my body thru that again. As for Patricia. Your comment saddens me. How can a mother regret having her child? If you truly love him, you will accept him, autism or not. Have you ever thought that your daughter wouldn’t be the same child without autism? The same goes for your son. I hope you can come to term with this, and embrace him and his autism. I would hate to see him grow up knowing his mama regretted having him. Patricia, do you have a local support group in your area that you can go to? It may help you with some of these feelings. I wish you luck…..

    • Romy August 12, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Wow, I love reading all these posts from everyone! I love mature people who can express their opinions without disrespect.
      Wow Patricia, it’s shocking what you wrote! I believe in destiny…maybe God choose you to be his mother rather give your boy to someone who wasn’t going to be a good mother. I know you are frustrated, trust me when I tell you. I want to scream sometimes, but NEVER, EVER do I regret being a mother. My kids have taught me so much!. I see life a different way now.
      Btw, my son as Autism — he is will be 3 in a few weeks. I also have a daughter who is 17 months (showing signs of developmental delays now, no Autism). I love the heck out of my kids, this is the life God planned for me. We still enjoy our kids, we laugh their weird behaviors and we deal with all of our headaches as a family. I even think some other normal people are Autistic too! I have my own relationship with my son. He still hug and kisses me.
      Trust me, I know it’s not easy, you are not alone.
      We are thinking of having another child…I think about the same exact issues I have read on this post. Can I handle one more with driving all over to therapies and appts? I try to focus on the positive and on the good things I have in my life with my Autistic son!
      When my son is older I want him to have more siblings to lean on. I want him to count on sister and brother when I am not around. Motherhood is a gift from GOD! I will pray for you!

      • jak May 12, 2015 at 4:44 am #

        God would not plan to torture a child. This isn’t about you. This is about deciding someone else’s entire life… whether they live as an individual or constantly in a group home with no control over their life. No one regrets the joy of motherhood but you can regret what you’ve done to someone else

  10. blogginglily May 30, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I think too many people make decisions about having children conditionally based on the ideal child they assume they’ll have.

    The decision making process really should be more like, “Are you ready to give up and control and love someone UNconditionally?” If yes: Get bizzay. If no: wrap that rascal.

    • mina May 4, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      i do believe in God , everything we get in our life is for a reason .God is the only one who knows why we have those children .i have a 4 years old daughter with autism and she is doing very good now. i did everything to help her. i am planning to have another baby soon ,i will try to prevent a lot of kind of food and i will take vitamins ,i will do my best and ask Allah (God) to protect my baby.i trust him ,but if i will have another baby with autism i am not going to be sad cause it is always for a reason that only God knows .if the sunrises everyday it means there is hope in life..
      Allah Akbar (God is great)

  11. jak May 12, 2015 at 4:46 am #

    it’s always the people responding that don’t have severe autism. If they did.. they’d run. That said I want a second so very badly and am having a tough time. I don’t want to hurt someone I love so much. It’s not about me at all in that regard.

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