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Pregnancy Length May Influence Severity of Autism
Date:4/6/2012

tend to be different depending on age at birth," Movsas said.

For babies born late, the study's authors said prolonged exposure to hormones, higher rates of problems with the placenta and Cesarean section could play a role in the severity of a child's autism.

On the other hand, the study also revealed that very preterm babies show an increase in the mannerisms associated with autism.

Nigel Paneth, an epidemiologist at Michigan State, said that although autism has a strong genetic component, the findings indicate that something about pregnancy or the perinatal period may affect how autism manifests itself.

"This adds to our earlier finding that prematurity is a major risk factor for autism spectrum disorder and may help us understand if anything can be done during early life to prevent or alleviate autism spectrum disorder," he said in the news release.

The study was published online April 3 in the Journal of Autism and Development Disorders.

No one knows what causes autism. Other research published this week found that spontaneous genetic mutations and older fathers may influence a small number of autism cases.

According to recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 88 U.S. children has some form of the neurological disorder.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides more information on autism.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: Michigan State University, news release, April 3, 2012.


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