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New study explores the relationship between preterm birth and autism spectrum disorder
Date:1/28/2009

Cincinnati, OH, January 29, 2009 -- Recent studies have suggested that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be more prevalent among children born very prematurely. The early symptoms of ASD are also associated with other conditions related to preterm births, such as cerebral palsy, which can make it difficult to correctly screen children for ASD. Because of this, researchers have begun to explore the relationship between preterm birth, cognitive and developmental impairments, and ASD. Two articles soon to be published in The Journal of Pediatrics explore this possible correlation between preterm birth and ASD.

Dr. Karl Kuban and colleagues from Boston University, Wake Forest University, and Harvard University studied 988 children born between 2002 and 2004 who participated in the ELGAN (Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborn) study, a large, multi-center study that enrolled more than 1500 infants born at least three months prematurely. They wanted to explore whether children born preterm are more likely to screen positive on the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), a survey administered to a caregiver regarding a child's behavior. Pediatricians typically wait to formally diagnose ASD until after a child's third birthday. In this study, however, the caregivers of the infants completed the M-CHAT when the children were 24 months of age. The researchers found that 21% of the preterm children screened positive for ASD.

Dr. Kuban and his colleagues were also interested in learning whether a child born prematurely who had motor, visual, hearing, or cognitive impairments was more likely to screen positive on the M-CHAT. Of the 988 children, 26% had cognitive impairments, 11% had cerebral palsy, 3% had visual impairments, and 2% had hearing impairments. They also observed that nearly half of the children with cerebral palsy and more than two-thirds of the children with visual or hearing impairments screened positive. Accor
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Contact: Brigid Huey
journal.pediatrics@cchmc.org
513-636-7140
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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