Neonatal Jaundice Ups Risk of Infantile Autism

But only for infants of parous moms with certain birth months
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Neonatal jaundice appears to increase the risk of autism and other psychological development disorders, but only for a subset of term infants, according to research published online Oct. 11 in Pediatrics.

Rikke Damkjaer Maimburg, M.P.H., Ph.D., of Aarhus University in Denmark, and colleagues conducted a follow-up study of all children born alive in Denmark between 1994 and 2004 to determine whether neonatal jaundice was associated with an increased risk of psychological development disorders in children.

There was a 56 percent to 88 percent higher risk of having a psychological development disorder for term infants with neonatal jaundice compared with infants who were not jaundiced. Infantile autism occurred 67 percent more frequently in jaundiced infants, and the risk was higher for children born to a parous mother (hazard ratio, 2.71) and for infants born during the months of October through March (hazard ratio, 2.21). There was no increased risk of infantile autism for jaundiced neonates born to primiparous women or for those born during the months of April through September.

"Additional evidence to distinguish the genetic and environmental components is needed to explain the association between neonatal jaundice and autistic disorders," write the authors.

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