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Penn Scientists Find Link Between Birth Weight And Autism

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – When it comes to autism, we are learning more and more about the importance of intervening early and helping to work with toddlers, but we’re still not certain about the cause or causes. That’s why it’s so important to try to learn any associations. A new report, published in the journal Pediatrics, by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, based on a study in three New Jersey counties, could help.

In their research, the scientists found autism is far more common in low birth weight babies in the general population. Five percent of newborns weighing less than four pounds, seven ounces were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. The number increased to more than 10% in those born below three pounds, five ounces.

It’s important to mention that most autistic children were normal size at birth. Low birth weight babies are a high-risk group, but are still not the majority of cases.

If you’re a parent of a low birth weight baby, there is no reason to think autism is inevitable. The odds are that it will not be an issue, but certainly you should regularly follow up with your pediatrician.

Reported by Dr. Brian McDonough, KYW Newsradio 1060

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  • Peter

    Interesting! This would partially explain the increase in autism. There used to be a higher mortality rate among low birth weight babies who are now surviving and some develop autism. .

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