Is There A Link Between Premature Birth And Autism

Is There A Link Between Premature Birth And Autism


A recent study shows preterm birth is not a risk factor for autism giving a contradiction to another research earlier. The research involved 1,15,000 births for the last decade, encompassing deliveries from diverse communities of Israel.

At the early stage of research, there was a clear junction between preterm birth and autism, but when the meta-analytic approach was infused, various other factors came into play like maternal age which manifests as risk factors and not premature delivery.

Read More: Virtual Autism Alert: Dangers of Excessive Screen Time for Your Toddlers’ Development

What is Autism?

Autism, typically called autism spectrum disorder is one of the most prevalent developmental disorders that is diagnosed not only in kids but later in life for some adults. This is because its symptoms often get misinterpreted as laziness or hyperactivity. In India, approximately one child out of sixty-eight is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder whereas the world ratio is one child per 100 children. US has one kid in thirty-six to be diagnosed with ASD.

The Symptoms of Autism

The symptoms criteria are often provided by ICD 11 (International Classification of Diseases) and DSM V (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition). Social communication and interaction are disrupted and a pattern of repetitive and limited behaviours. Since it is a developmental disorder, these symptoms persist from early development.

Why Spectrum?

It is often said that an experience with an autistic kid gives a sole experience limited to it since each autistic child exhibits itself differently. This is because various tendencies and attributes associated with autism are diverse. These attributes blend in various quantitative combinations, resulting in a unique blend of manifestations that are exhibited differently for every autistic child.

Read More: The Good Doctor: Portraying Autism Disorder through an Interesting Story

There are three major types of autism spectrum disorder; Asperger’s syndrome lies at the high-functioning end of this spectrum with high intellectual abilities and difficulties in socializing. PDD (Pervasive Developmental disorder) is the midline with more severe symptoms than Asperger’s but less than autistic disorder. Autistic disorder is the low-functioning end with the most severe symptoms.

Preterm Delivery

When an infant is born around 37 weeks instead of 40 weeks of the gestation period, it is labelled as premature or preterm birth, Much research has shown that early preterm delivery, higher the chances of autism in the kid. But with this recent study, a new perspective is given showcasing factors that can be underlying causes both for autistic traits and the probability of premature birth.

Read More: How a Mother’s Stress Impacts the Fetus

ASD Diagnosis

Clinical psychologists who have a license from the Rehabilitation Council of India are qualified to diagnose autism spectrum disorder based on ICD 11.

But when to suspect ASD?

Screening is a procedure that comes up as the role of primary caregivers like parents and educators. It is the first step to diagnosis when suspicion of the signs of it can be noticed. Various standardized checklists are available with special educators for this like M-CHAT. Few research has shown that it can even be diagnosed as early as two to three months of age.

Early intervention

Most of the kids are diagnosed with autism at the age of around three years old. It is an example of neurodivergence where the brain wiring is different than typical. It is of utmost significance here to understand that neurodivergence is not an abnormality but a unique ability. Early intervention and management cater to the gap built by developmental delays. Neuroplasticity is how brain shaping occurs, especially in the first six years of life.

Read More: Parenting with Neurodiversity: Nurturing Diverse Minds

Moreover, autism spectrum disorder is much more than a disability. The term neurodivergence itself shows the variation from neurotypicality. With the right interventional management, an autistic kid can go miles, even sharpening abilities like looking at the hidden elements in a perspective.

References +
  • Raina SK, Chander V, Bhardwaj AK, Kumar D, Sharma S, Kashyap V, Singh M, Bhardwaj A. Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Rural, Urban, and Tribal Children (1-10 Years of Age). J Neurosci Rural Pract. 2017 Jul-Sep;8(3):368-374. doi: 10.4103/jnrp.jnrp_329_16. PMID: 28694615; PMCID: PMC5488556.
  • Crump C, Sundquist J, Sundquist K. Preterm or Early Term Birth and Risk of Autism. Pediatrics. 2021 Sep;148(3):e2020032300. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-032300. Epub 2021 Aug 11. PMID: 34380775; PMCID: PMC9809198.

Leave feedback about this

  • Rating