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Can Birth Complications Cause Autism?

Studies Show Complications Before and During Birth May Lead to Increased Risk for Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is one of the most common developmental disorders in the United States. Its symptoms are wide-ranging and can result in significant intellectual, behavioral, and social disabilities. As more research is done on the topic, the risk factors for the disorder are becoming more evident. While the cause of autism may be unknown in many cases, studies suggest that birth complications may increase a child’s risk for the condition.

If you experienced pregnancy or labor difficulties and your child was later diagnosed with autism, you might be entitled to compensation. At The Beasley Firm, we review and investigate injuries related to birth trauma nationwide. Our esteemed legal team handles are well-versed in handling the most complex birth injury claims. Contact our office at (215) 866-2424 for a free, no-obligation consultation. 

How Prevalent Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 44 8-year-old children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Boys are significantly (4x) more likely to be diagnosed with the condition compared to girls. Children were identified on the spectrum in 2014 at a much higher rate (50%) than in 2010. 

Screening and diagnosis for autism are happening at a much earlier age compared to nearly a decade ago. Despite there being no medical test to diagnose the disorder, doctors are better able to identify the symptoms. Children as young as two can be reliably diagnosed with ASD and begin receiving treatment for ASD-related symptoms. 

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ASD?

Autism spectrum disorder is often discovered when children begin to miss developmental communication and social milestones. One of the most common signs of ASD that is evident at an early age is when a child avoids or fails to keep eye contact. As noted by the CDC, the signs and symptoms of ASD are varied and can be easily missed without the help of a trained professional. 

Signs and symptoms of Autism may include:

  • Failure to respond to name at 9 months
  • No facial expressions
  • Failure to use gestures such as waving hello and goodbye by 12 months
  • No pretend play by 4 years old
  • No singing or dancing by 5 years old
  • Use of repetitive words or phrases
  • Easily upset by minor changes
  • Strict adherence to routine
  • Hand flapping or body rocking
  • Delayed language development
  • Epilepsy or seizure disorder
  • Hyperactivity or inattention
  • Delayed learning skills

If your child is exhibiting any of these symptoms, you should consult with your pediatrician. Early diagnosis and treatment can help your child thrive in social and educational situations. 

What Causes ASD?

While there may be more than one cause of autism spectrum disorder, there are some factors that may make it more likely that a child will have the disorder. 

As reported by the CDC, factors that may increase a child’s risk for ASD:

  • Having a sibling with the disorder;
  • Advanced parental age at the time of pregnancy;
  • Certain “genetic or chromosomal conditions,” and
  • Complications at birth.

Multiple studies, including one from Kaiser Permanente,  indicate that problems during labor and delivery (birth complications) may increase a child’s risk for developing autism. Specifically, complications such as birth asphyxia and preeclampsia are believed to make it more likely that a child will develop the disorder. 

The study showed a 10% increased risk of developing ASD if a child was exposed to complications during birth and a 22% increased risk for children who were exposed to complications before labor. 

Get a Free Case Evaluation

If your child was diagnosed with autism after a birth complication, contact our office at (215) 866-2424 for a free consultation. All case evaluations are confidential and without pressure to retain our firm.

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