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Autism with Intellectual Disability Related to Dynamics of Head Circumference Growth during Early Infancy

      Abstract

      Background

      It is not yet definitively known whether dynamic features of head circumference growth are associated with autism. To address this issue, we carried out a nested matched case-control study using data from national well baby clinics in Finland; autism cases were identified from the Finnish Hospital and Outpatient Discharge Registry.

      Methods

      A nonparametric Bayesian method was used to construct growth velocity trajectories between birth and 2 years of age in autism cases and matched control subjects (n = 468 in main analyses, 1:1 matched control subjects). Estimates of odds ratios for autism risk in relation to the growth velocities were obtained using conditional logistic regression.

      Results

      Growth velocity of head circumference at 3 months of age, adjusting for gestational age at birth and maternal age, is significantly associated with autism (p = .014); the finding was observed in subjects with comorbid intellectual disability (ID) (p = .025) but not in those without ID (p = .15). Height growth velocity among subjects with autism and without ID is significantly associated with autism at 6 months (p = .007), and weight growth velocity at 18 months without ID (p = .02) and 24 months without ID (p = .042) and with ID (p = .037).

      Conclusions

      Acceleration in head circumference growth is associated with autism with comorbid ID at 3 months but not subsequently. This association is unrelated to acceleration in height and weight, which are not strongly associated with autism until after 6 months.

      Keywords

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