Head Circumference Growth Up in Infancy in Boys With Autism

Boys with autism also have increased height and weight compared with typically developing controls

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Boys with autism experience accelerated head circumference (HC) growth, and have increased height and weight in the first year of life, according to a study published in the October issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Katarzyna Chawarska, Ph.D., from Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues investigated the correlation between HC growth in autism, and height and weight growth during infancy, and assessed the association of HC growth from birth to 24 months with social, verbal, cognitive, and adaptive functioning levels. A total of 64 boys diagnosed with autism, 34 with pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified, 13 with global developmental delay, 18 with other developmental problems, and 55 typically developing boys were included in the analyses. Age-related changes in HC, height, and weight between birth and age 24 months, and measures of social, verbal, and cognitive functioning at age 2 years were the main outcome measures.

The investigators found that boys with autism were significantly longer by age 4.8 months, had a larger HC by age 9.5 months, and weighed more by age 11.4 months than typically developing controls. A similar pattern of overgrowth was not found in any of the other clinical groups. Significantly greater severity of social deficits and lower adaptive functioning were found in boys with autism who were in the top 10 percent of overall physical size in infancy.

"Boys with autism experienced accelerated HC growth in the first year of life," the authors write. "The study highlights the importance of studying factors that influence not only neuronal development but also skeletal growth in autism."

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