Published: 2015-12-21 16:06 | Updated: 2015-12-21 16:08

Brain differences in premature babies who later develop autism

Extremely premature babies run a much higher risk of developing autism in later childhood, and even during the neonate period differences are seen in the brains of those who do. This according to a new study by researchers from Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. The findings, which are published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, suggest that environmental factors can lead to autism

“Our study shows that environmental factors can also cause autism,” says Ulrika Ådén, researcher at the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health at Karolinska Institutet and neonatologist at the Neonatology clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. “The brain grows best in the womb, and if the developmental environment changes too early to a life in the atmosphere, it can disrupt the organisation of cerebral networks. With new therapeutic regimes to stimulate the development of such babies and avoid stress, maybe we can reduce the risk of their developing ASD.”

More about the study...