New Delhi: Children who were exposed to complications shortly before or during birth may be at risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, says a new study.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction, communication deficits and a range of restricted and repetitive behavior patterns, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
The study by Kaiser Permanente found that children with complications during birth were at a 10% higher risk of developing ASD.
The study stated that the perinatal complications that had the highest association with ASD were birth asphyxia - deprivation of oxygen during the birthing process - and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems.
Other perinatal complications that were associated with ASD included premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, breech/transverse fetal presentation, fetal dystocia/abnormal size or position, and a prolapsed/exposed umbilical cord.
For the study, researchers examined the health records of 594,638 children born in Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California between 1991 and 2009.
During this time, 6,255 of these children were diagnosed with ASD, 37 percent of whom experienced perinatal complications.
They found that children exposed to complications during birth were at a 10 percent increased risk of developing ASD, compared to children who did not experience perinatal complications.
That number rose to a 22 percent increased risk of developing ASD for children exposed to complications before labor began.
The study also showed that children exposed to complications both before and during birth had a 44 percent greater risk of developing ASD than children who did not experience perinatal complications.
Latest estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that about 1 in 68 children have been identified with ASD, and the disorder is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups. ASD is about 4.5 times more common among boys than girls.
Common symptoms of ASD include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests and repetitive behaviours.
ASD can't be cured, but early recognition, as well as behavioural, educational and family therapies may help.
The study was published in the American Journal of Perinatology.
(With ANI inputs)
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