Online Program

Perinatal and Neonatal Determinants of the Development and Severity of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Sharon Homan, Ph.D., Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX
Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder beginning in the toddler years.  Published studies suggest that the perinatal and neonatal periods are critical in the onset of ASD. This study evaluates the association of perinatal and neonatal factors with ASD and its severity.

Methods: We analyzed data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (2012), for 19,957 children aged two to five years. Using multivariate logistic regression, we estimated the association between breastfeeding status, maternal age at the time of childbirth, birthweight and birth-order and ASD, adjusting for age, gender, race and poverty level. We examined the influence of these factors on severity of ASD using ordinal logistic regression.

Results: Children with low birthweight had twice the odds for ASD. Children with higher birth-order had three times higher odds for ASD. Breastfed children had decreased odds for a severe form of ASD, as compared to those who were never breastfed or breastfed for less than six months. Children born to of mothers aged 25-30 years had higher odds for severe ASD, as compared to children born to mothers under 20 years at childbirth. Higher birth-order children had a small (1%) decreased odds of severe ASD.

Conclusion: Children with lower birthweight and higher birth-order were more likely to have ASD.  Children who were breastfed for six or more months had decreased risk for severe ASD.  Children of mothers 25 to 30 years were more likely to have more severe form of ASD than children of younger mothers.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the potential effects of breastfeeding, low birthweight, maternal age at the time of child birth and birth-order on the development and severity of Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Keyword(s): Child Health, Children With Special Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Maternal and Child Health is my primary research interest. As part of class project, I worked with my peers and Dr. Sharon Homan (Professor and Chair) to develop a research article that could help in targeting special needs of children. As a result, we conducted a research targeting autistic children, thus adding knowledge and contribution to the field of public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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