Autism More Prevalent in Low Birth Weight Individuals

Prospective study's findings add clout to suspected association

MONDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Low birth weight (LBW) has been considered a risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), and the results of a new prospective study suggest ASDs are indeed more prevalent in people born at low birth weights; the findings have been published online Oct. 17 in Pediatrics.

Jennifer A. Pinto-Martin, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and School of Medicine in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted periodic assessments from birth through age 21 of 1,105 individuals who weighed less than 2,000 grams at birth to estimate the prevalence of ASDs in LBW individuals.

Using validated diagnostic instruments, the researchers estimated the prevalence of ASDs to be 5 percent in the LBW cohort, about five-times the rate seen in the general population.

"The diagnostic prevalence of ASD in this LBW preterm cohort was higher than that reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 8-year-olds in the general U.S. population in 2006," the authors write.

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