In October there was a study released in Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding Autism and Low Birth Weight (you can read the article and abstract at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/883.abstract).
The study found (with a very small study group) that babies weighing less than 4.4 lbs at birth were 5 times as likely to be diagnosed with autism.
As a special education teacher my reply is, “Duh!” I realize the importance of proving that low birth weight results in an increased chance of being diagnosed with Autism. But low birth weight babies often suffer from so many difficulties. Being unable to process sensory input properly seems, to me, to go hand-in-hand with premature birth and many babies who have a low birth weight are premature. Does anyone else see the issue with the study?
What about trying to figure out what causes autism? What about trying to find ways to diagnose autism much earlier so that interventions can be established that will give the child the ability to function better in society?
It seems to me that discovering the link between low birth weight and autism was something that should have been established long ago. It is common sense. So, why is this being published now?
I have no clue. My guess is that this article was published to help to combat the supposed (and fabricated) link between autism and vaccines. Parents are desperate to “blame” something for their child’s autism. I can understand that. Parents don’t want to think that they did something to “cause” their child to have autism. They want to hear that it isn’t their fault. I get it.
But you can’t “cause” autism. It is a condition that is difficult to define (hence Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder or PDD) and experts don’t always agree. I’ve worked with some kids who have gotten an autism diagnosis, but exhibit many, many behaviors inconsistent with autism AND presents more consistently as a child with behavior disorders. There is a difference.
Perhaps the child was given the diagnosis of autism because that may be easier for parents to swallow than a behavior disorder diagnosis. However, it doesn’t help with the confusion about what autism is.