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J Perinat Med. 1999;27(6):441-50.

Prenatal and perinatal risk factors for autism.

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  • 1University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences, North Dakota Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Center, Grand Forks, USA. laburd@mail.med.und.nodak.edu



To identify pre- and perinatal risk factors for autism.


Case control study. We matched names of patients from North Dakota who met DSM criteria for autism, a pervasive developmental disorder, and autistic disorder with their birth certificates. Five matched controls were selected for each case.


Univariate analysis of the 78 cases and 390 controls identified seven risk factors. Logistic modeling to control for confounding produced a five variable model. The model parameters were chi 2 = 36.6 and p < 0.001. The five variables in the model were decreased birth weight, low maternal education, later start of prenatal care, and having a previous termination of pregnancy. Increasing father's age was associated with increased risk of autism.


This methodology may provide an inexpensive method for clinics and public health providers to identify risk factors and to identify maternal characteristics of patients with mental illness and developmental disorders.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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