Navigation Links
Bigger birth weight babies at greater risk of autism

It is the first time that a clear link has been made between babies who grow to above average size at birth and risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder and follows from a study of more than 40,000 child health records in Sweden.

The research, led by The University of Manchester, also confirms earlier research which reported that premature and poorly grown, low weight babies appear more susceptible to the condition.

Autism affects how individuals interact with the world and with other people and there is no known cure. One child in 100 has the condition in the UK according to NHS figures. Researchers believe it has origins in both genetic and environmental causes.

Professor Kathryn Abel, from the University's Centre for Women's Mental Health and Institute of Brain, Behaviour and Mental Health, led the research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Professor Abel said: "The processes that leads to ASD probably begin during fetal life; signs of the disorder can occur as early as three years of age. Fetal growth is influenced by genetic and non-genetic factors. A detailed understanding of how fetal growth is controlled and the ways in which it is associated with ASD are therefore important if we are to advance the search for cures.

"To our knowledge, this is the first large prospective population-based study to describe the association between the degree of deviance in fetal growth from the normal average in a population of children and risk of ASD with and without intellectual disability.

"We have shown for the first time categorically that abnormal fetal growth in both directions increases risk of autism spectrum disorder."

Researchers looked at data from the Stockholm Youth Cohort in Sweden, where early ultrasound dating provides detailed weights of the baby's progression in pregnancy. Infants and children then also take part in structured clinical assessments of their social, motor, language and cognitive abilities.

The cohort contained records of 589,114 children aged 0-17 in Sweden between 2001 and 2007. Certain child data was removed, including children too young to have a diagnosis for ASD, adopted children and non Swedish or Stockholm County residents, children not born in Sweden and twins.

From the remaining available data, researchers found 4,283 young people with autism and 36,588 who did not have the condition and who acted as the control.

The study found that bigger babies who were born weighing over 4.5kg (or 9lb 14) showed a higher incidence of autism, as did smaller infants who were born weighing less than 2.5kg (5.5lb).

A baby who had poor fetal growth would therefore have a 63% greater risk of developing autism compared to normally grown babies.

A baby who was large at birth would have a 60% greater risk. This effect was independent of whether or not the baby was born pre or post term.

Professor Abel added: "We think that this increase in risk associated with extreme abnormal growth of the fetus shows that something is going wrong during development, possibly with the function of the placenta.

"Anything which encourages abnormalities of development and growth is likely to also affect development of the baby's brain. Risk appeared particularly high in those babies where they were growing poorly and continued in utero until after 40 weeks. This may be because these infants were exposed the longest to unhealthy conditions within the mother's womb.

"We now need more research into fetal growth, how it is controlled by the placenta and how this affects how the brain develops. One of the key areas to research is maternal condition and healthy growth."

The study was also unique as it was big enough to be able to look at the differences between children who developed ASD with and those without intellectual disability as well as differences between children born pre and post-term (after 40 weeks).


Contact: Alison Barbuti
University of Manchester

Related biology news :

1. Bigger gorillas better at attracting mates and raising young
2. Bigger refuges needed to delay pest resistance to biotech corn
3. Want bigger plants? Get to the root of the matter
4. For mitochondria, bigger may not be better
5. Bigger creatures live longer, travel farther for a reason
6. Anti-HIV drug use during pregnancy does not affect infant size, birth weight
7. Higher risk of birth defects from assisted reproduction
8. Differences between human twins at birth highlight importance of intrauterine environment
9. Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers discover elusive gene that causes a form of blindness from birth
10. Imaging study sheds new light on alcohol-related birth defects
11. Obese moms give birth to heart healthier kids following bariatric surgery
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Connected health pioneer, ... driving the explosion of technology-enabled health and wellness, and ... new book, The Internet of Healthy Things ... sensors or smartphones even existed, Dr. Kvedar, vice president, ... of health care delivery, moving care from the hospital ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... Munich, Germany , ... (ASGM) automatically maps data from mobile eye tracking videos ... so that they can be quantitatively analyzed with SMI,s ... Germany , October 28-29, 2015. SMI,s Automated Semantic ... eye tracking videos created with SMI,s Eye Tracking ...
(Date:10/26/2015)... , Oct. 26, 2015  Delta ID Inc., a ... to mobile and PC devices, announced its ActiveIRIS® technology ... arrows NX F-02H launched by NTT DOCOMO, INC in ... is the second smartphone to include iris recognition technology, ... ARROWS NX F-04G in May 2015, world,s first smartphone ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Aeterna Zentaris Inc. (NASDAQ:  AEZS; TSX: ... prospects remain fundamentally strong and highlights the following ... received DSMB recommendation to continue the ZoptEC Phase ... the final interim efficacy and safety data ... men with heavily pretreated castration- and Taxane-resistant prostate ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 2015  Asia-Pacific (APAC) holds the third-largest share ... The trend of outsourcing to low-cost locations is ... volume share for the region in the short ... in the CRO industry will improve. ... ), finds that the market earned revenues ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is also toxic ... (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic study of ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP and AdVenture Capital brought together ... their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in their schools. , Now, the ... title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip to Super Bowl 50, and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: