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Preemies and Autism:A Link between Low Birth Weight and Autism

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Autism is still an enigma to both parents and doctors. The causes are still not really known, and, often times, screening is still underutilized because symptoms and characteristics are not always readily apparent. Researchers are making strides, though, towards helping parents understand possible relations and risks, and one new study suggest that there is a link between low-weight, premature babies and an increased risk of autism.

Researchers followed 862 premature, low birth weight infants born in New Jersey between October 1984 and July 1989 until their 21st birthday. Of these premature infants, their birth weights ranged from 1.1 pounds to 4.4 pounds.

Among children who were born at a healthier birth weight, 1% have autism or fall somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Of the children that participated in the study, 5% fell somewhere on the autistic spectrum.

There will be an additional study done to see if this link between low birth weight preemies and autism has to do with brain hemorrhages. Brain hemorrhage is a common side effect of premature birth. For this study they will examine the brain ultrasounds taken of the children, as newborns.

Premature birth has already been linked with possible cognitive and motor skill issues. Cognitive issues may also mask signs of autism. Experts suggest that, if there are any possible signs or suspicions, parents seek evaluation for Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
Early interventions help children with autistic spectrum disorders in both school and home, greatly improving their long term outcome.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Preemies and Autism:A Link between Low Birth Weight and Autism

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