Comprehensive Review of Research Reveals Link Between Birth Injuries and Autism | Charles Thronson

Comprehensive Review of Research Reveals Link Between Birth Injuries and Autism

March 24, 2016

A team led by Hannah Gardner of the Harvard School of Public Health completed the first comprehensive, scientific review of all research on birth-related risk factors for autism. This review includes scientific literature for clinical studies on birth and newborn conditions that have been associated with autism. This scientific review clarified the conditions that may contribute to the development of this disorder, and the report from the review appeared in an issue of the “Pediatrics” journal. The study concluded that certain birth injuries that occur during childbirth seemed to have a strong link with an increased likelihood that a child will develop autism. If you are considering bringing a birth injury suit in Utah because you suspect that the medical professionals involved were negligent, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney such as Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law who can advise you on your next course of action.

Conditions that Increase Risk for Autism

Gardner’s team reviewed 40 different and sometimes conflicting studies, using a method of analysis that allowed them to combine and compare findings across many scientific reports to clarify and strengthen their conclusions. This entailed the exploration of 60 different birth-related conditions that they suspected increased autism risk. This includes birth injuries, premature births, low birth weight, and multiple births.

Through their review, Gardner’s team identified the following complications and conditions that seemed to have the strongest link with a risk for developing autism:

  • Breech birth or other abnormal birth presentations;
  • Nuchal umbilical cord (umbilical cord wrapped around neck), reduced blood flow due to compression of the umbilical cord, and other umbilical cord-related complications;
  • Fetal distress, which occurs when the infant has not been receiving enough oxygen, and is often detected through an abnormal fetal heart rate;
  • Birth injury or trauma, which may be caused by operative delivery using instrumentation such as forceps of vacuum extraction, or by the use of excessive force during delivery;
  • Multiple births such as twins, triplets, etc.;
  • The presentation of the infant with low birth weight in consideration of gestational age;
  • The presence of physical birth defects;
  • Meconium aspiration, which occurs when a newborn baby breathes a mixture of meconium (the infant’s early stool) and amniotic fluid into the lungs around the time of delivery;
  • Feeding difficulties such as gastroesophageal reflux, gastroenteritis, ingesting too much or too little food, or fluid loss; or
  • Hemolytic newborn disease, which occurs when there is an incompatibility between the blood types of the mother and baby, and may lead to newborn anemia or hyperbilirubinemia, where a substance called bilirubin is formed after red blood cells break down, causing jaundice.

Many of the factors identified as increasing the risk of autism were associated with hypoxia, or low levels of oxygen in the brain of the infant. In particular, these include fetal distress, nuchal umbilical cord, meconium aspiration, respiratory distress, and Cesarean delivery. However, the analysis also showed that no one birth complication increases autism risk, but rather such increased risk is associated with a combination of two or more factors that may reflect a difficult birth.

If you have a child that suffered a birth injury during delivery that may have resulted in the development of autism, you may be able to obtain compensation, especially if your child has begun showing long-term disabilities such as autism as a result. Charles H. Thronson, Attorney at Law, is a seasoned advocate in Utah with years of experience in pursuing claims against medical professionals for birth injuries. Do not hesitate to contact our firm today for an initial consultation by calling (800) 532-0021 or by completing our online form.

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