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Body length and head growth in the first year of life in autism




Pediatr Neurol. 2007 Nov;37(5):324-30.


Body length and head growth in the first year of life in autism.


van Daalen E, Swinkels SH, Dietz C, van Engeland H, Buitelaar JK. Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht.



Data on the growth of the head in the first year of life in children with autism spectrum disorders are inconsistent. We measured head circumference and body length during the first year of life, and determined whether the head grew in proportion to body length. This is a case-control study nested in a population-based screening study of autism spectrum disorders. Longitudinal data for head circumference and body length of 53 children with autism spectrum disorders were compared with those of a control group and population norms, using univariate and multilevel statistical modeling. Growth of body length was accelerated, but growth of head circumference was normal in children with autism spectrum disorders compared with controls in the first year of life. The rate of macrocephaly we detected in the first year of life in our sample, 11.3%, fits within the 95% confidence intervals of macrocephaly rates in previous studies. Our findings suggest that autism spectrum disorder is due to a dysregulation of growth in general, rather than to a dysregulation of neuronal growth in the brain. It is unclear whether this early, disproportionate growth of children with autism spectrum disorders is specific to the disorder, and whether this growth could serve as a biomarker to delineate more homogeneous subtypes of autism spectrum disorders.


PMID: 17950417 [PubMed - in process]



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