Research conducted by a Penn scholar was named one of 2011’s “Top 10 New Findings in Parenting” by TIME magazine. The study, from Penn Nursing Professor Jennifer Pinto-Martin and colleagues, found that premature infants are five times more likely to have autism than children born at normal weight. The children, some born as small as about a pound, were followed for 21 years, making this study one of the most remarkable of its kind. Links between low birthweight and a range of motor and cognitive problems have been well established for some time, but this is the first study to prove that these children are also at increased risk for autism spectrum disorders.
“As survival of the smallest and most immature babies improves, impaired survivors represent an increasing public health challenge,” wrote Pinto-Martin, who directs the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Research and Epidemiology at Penn Nursing.
Originally published on January 19, 2012