Infants with Low Birth-weight 5 Times More Likely to Have Autism

Autism Information

Author: University of Pennsylvania
Published: 2011/10/17 - Updated: 2024/06/07
Publication Type: Research, Study, Analysis - Peer-Reviewed: Yes
Contents: Summary - Introduction - Main - Related

Synopsis: First study that establishes that low birth-weight children are also at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders. Links between low birth-weight and a range of motor and cognitive problems have been well established for some time, but this is the first study that establishes that these children are also at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). In future studies, Penn researchers will investigate possible links between brain hemorrhage, a complication of premature birth, and autism by examining brain ultrasounds taken of these children as newborns.

Introduction

Autism researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing have found a link between low birth-weight and children diagnosed with autism, reporting premature infants are five times more likely to have autism than children born at normal weight.

Main Digest

The children, some born as small as about a pound, were followed for 21 years making this study, published in the prestigious journal Pediatrics, one of the most remarkable of its kind. The infants were born between September 1984 through July 1987 in Middlesex, Monmouth, and Ocean counties in New Jersey at birth-weights from 500 to 2000 grams or a maximum of about 4.4 pounds.

"As survival of the smallest and most immature babies improves, impaired survivors represent an increasing public health challenge," wrote lead author Jennifer Pinto-Martin, MPH, PhD, director of the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology (CADDRE) at Penn Nursing. "Emerging studies suggest that low birth-weight may be a risk factor for autism spectrum disorders."

Links between low birth-weight and a range of motor and cognitive problems have been well established for some time, but this is the first study that establishes that these children are also at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

"Cognitive problems in these children may mask underlying autism," said Dr. Pinto-Martin. "If there is suspicion of autism or a positive screening test for ASD, parents should seek an evaluation for an ASD. Early intervention improves long-term outcome and can help these children both at school and at home."

In future studies, Penn researchers will investigate possible links between brain hemorrhage, a complication of premature birth, and autism by examining brain ultrasounds taken of these children as newborns.

The researchers, including a team at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, followed 862 children from birth to young adulthood finding that five percent of the children were diagnosed with autism, compared to one percent of the general population in what researchers called "the first study to have estimated the prevalence of ASD using research validated diagnostic instruments."

Funding

The $3 million study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Interesting Related Information

Attribution/Source(s):

This peer reviewed publication was selected for publishing by the editors of Disabled World due to its significant relevance to the disability community. Originally authored by University of Pennsylvania, and published on 2011/10/17 (Edit Update: 2024/06/07), the content may have been edited for style, clarity, or brevity. For further details or clarifications, University of Pennsylvania can be contacted at upenn.edu. NOTE: Disabled World does not provide any warranties or endorsements related to this article.

Related Publications

Share This Information To:
𝕏.com Facebook Reddit

Page Information, Citing and Disclaimer

Disabled World is a comprehensive online resource that provides information and news related to disabilities, assistive technologies, and accessibility issues. Founded in 2004 our website covers a wide range of topics, including disability rights, healthcare, education, employment, and independent living, with the goal of supporting the disability community and their families.

Cite This Page (APA): University of Pennsylvania. (2011, October 17 - Last revised: 2024, June 7). Infants with Low Birth-weight 5 Times More Likely to Have Autism. Disabled World. Retrieved July 24, 2024 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/low-birthweight.php

Permalink: <a href="https://www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/autism/low-birthweight.php">Infants with Low Birth-weight 5 Times More Likely to Have Autism</a>: First study that establishes that low birth-weight children are also at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders.

Disabled World provides general information only. Materials presented are never meant to substitute for qualified medical care. Any 3rd party offering or advertising does not constitute an endorsement.