Friday, September 16, 2016

How extreme prematurity ups autism risk

Infants born prematurely have a higher risk of autism than infants delivered at term, and this risk climbs the earlier a baby is born. But it’s unclear whether these autism features are merely a by-product of the complications of prematurity.
Autism in premature infants is no different from classic autism and not just a result of prematurity, says Robert Joseph, assistant professor of anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University. An early exit from the womb intensifies the biological factors that drive autism, putting preterm infants at heightened risk, he says.