Are perinatal and neonatal factors risks for autism?

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The US researchers performed a systematic review and meta- analysis looking at the association between perinatal and neonatal factors and the risk of autism. They searched PubMed, Embase, and PsycInfo databases for studies addressing this question. Forty were eligible for the meta-analysis. A random-effects model was used to estimate the effects.

The researchers found: “Over 60 perinatal and neonatal factors were examined. Factors associated with autism risk in the meta-analysis were abnormal presentation, umbilical-cord complications, fetal distress, birth injury or trauma, multiple birth, maternal hemorrhage, summer birth, low birth weight, small for gestational age, congenital malformation, low 5-minute Apgar score, feeding difficulties, meconium aspiration, neonatal anemia, ABO or Rh incompatibility, and hyperbilirubinemia. Factors not associated with autism risk included anesthesia, assisted vaginal delivery, postterm birth, high birth weight, and head circumference.”

The researchers concluded: “There is insufficient evidence to implicate any 1 perinatal or neonatal factor in autism etiology, although there is some evidence to suggest that exposure to a broad class of conditions reflecting general compromises to perinatal and neonatal health may increase the risk. Methodological variations were likely sources of heterogeneity of risk factor effects across studies.”

There is as of yet no smoking gun in terms of perinatal and neonatal risk factors for autism

For the full abstract, click here.

Pediatrics 128(2): 344-355, August 2011 © 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics
Perinatal and Neonatal Risk Factors for Autism: A Comprehensive Meta-analysis. Hannah Gardener, Donna Spiegelman, Stephen L. Buka.

Category: N. Neurological, W. Pregnancy, Family Planning. Keywords: autism, perinatal, neonatal, risk, birth complications, systematic review with meta-analysis, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 2 September 2011

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