Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A new Kaiser Permanente study has found that children exposed to birth complications like asphyxia or preeclampsia could have an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.
"Our study suggests that children exposed to certain perinatal complications, especially birth asphyxia and preeclampsia, were more likely to be diagnosed with ASD than those who were not exposed, even after adjusting for factors such as gestational age at birth and a mother's age, race and education," Dr. Darios Getahun, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Southern California Department of Research & Evaluation and lead author of the study, said in a press release.
"While there currently is no cure for ASD, early identification of children who may be at risk of developing the disorder is extremely important, as research shows that early intervention treatment services for children with ASD can greatly improve their development."
For the study, researchers examined the electronic health records of 594,638 children born in Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Southern California between 1991 and 2009. Of the babies born during this time, 6,255 were diagnosed with ASD and 37 percent of those experienced birth complications.
Researchers found that children exposed to birth complications were 10 percent more likely to develop ASD than children who were not exposed to birth complications. Children exposed to complications before labor began were 22 percent more likely to develop ASD and children exposed to complications before and during birth were at a 44 percent higher risk of developing ASD.
Other perinatal complications found to be associated with ASD were premature separation of the placenta from the uterus, breech or transverse fetal presentation, fetal dystocia/abnormal size or position and a prolapsed or exposed umbilical cord.
The study was published in the American Journal of Perinatology.