Can Pregnancy-Related Complications during Childbirth be an Autism Indicator?


Infants who are exposed to complications during or before birth have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with autism, a new study suggests. These children are at a greater risk of developing autism.

Pregnancy Complications and Autism

Records of 594,638 infants who were born in Kaiser Permanente hospitals were examined by researchers.

The researchers further studied the available data by going through the electronic health records of the infant babies.

Kaiser Permanente hospitals are based out of Southern California.  The researchers analyzed records from the years 1991 to 2009.

The team observed that during this time period, 6,225 infants were diagnosed on the spectrum. Out of these, 37 percent of the children were exposed to prenatal complications.

These children were seen to have a 10% greater risk of being diagnosed with autism in comparison to their peers who were not exposed to pregnancy-related complications.

In a deeper observation, the researchers observed, children who were subjected to labour complications at the time of birth were 22% more likely to develop autism in their later years.

Further, the research highlighted that children who experienced complications during birth and before were 44% more likely to develop autism. Thus, the researchers say, not having any complications during childbirth may be an indicator as to whether the child will develop normally.

Dr. Darios Getahun says, “The study carried out by our team has exposed the risk of prenatal complications, which risks the babies to be diagnosed with autism. The study was carried out after a look and adjusting important factors such as gestational age and mother’s age along with other factors such as education and race of the parents.”

Dr. Darios leads the department of research in the Kaiser Permanente hospitals.

The doctor highlights, “Although there is no specific cure for autism, earlier identification plays a greater role in arriving at an effective diagnosis.”

The interventional programs can greatly benefit an individual and help with their development.

MUST READ: Could Viral Infections During Pregnancy be Responsible for Causing Autism?

As per the findings and earlier studies that have been carried out, pregnancy-related complications are seen to have greater association with autism disorder. Pregnancy complications such as birth asphyxia were seen to be a major contributing factor.

Birth asphyxia is a condition when a child gets deprived of oxygen at the time of birth.

Preeclampsia condition too is seen to be a contributing factor towards infants being born autistic.

Preeclampsia condition is known to occur at the time of delivery with the characteristic of high blood pressure that can result in causing damage to the internal body of the mother.

Other complications such as separating the placental and uterus prematurely, traversing foetal presentation and having the umbilical cord exposed were seen to be major contributing factors.

Autism is a known neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by difficulties in social interactions, communicative deficiencies and behavioral issues among individuals affected by ASD.

The American Psychiatric Association has estimated 1 child in every 68 children born in the United States alone to be autistic.

The researchers further observed from different angles, such as whether the condition can rapidly occur across one race compared to another.

The ASD disorder was seen to occur irrespective of socioeconomic background and ethnicity of an individual. The condition is seen to be more common among boys than in girls with a ratio of 4:1. This translates to one per four boys being diagnosed on the spectrum.

Can Pregnancy-Related Complications during Childbirth be an Autism Indicator?
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Can Pregnancy-Related Complications during Childbirth be an Autism Indicator?
Can prenatal complications indicate autism? Can other factors such as gestational age and race of the parents come into the picture, for a child to be on the spectrum?
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