Possible Jaundice-Autism Link

10.12.10 New study says more autism cases found in children who had jaundice as newborns.


A new study out of Denmark suggests that newborn full-term babies who have jaundice may have a higher risk of developing autism than other infants, The Associated Press reports.

The findings, published online by the journal Pediatrics, emphasize that additional extensive research is necessary to establish a firm link between the two conditions and that parents should not worry, AP says. In fact, the study's results don't show whether jaundice actually causes autism, only that the two are often together.

Jaundice causes the skin to turn yellow because of high levels of a substance called bilirubin, according to our Fit Pregnancy health experts. Approximately 60 percent of full-term babies and 80 percent of preemies have jaundice, and are cured with simple measures and turn out fine, experts say.

The Danish study of nearly 734,000 children born between 1994 and 2004 found that babies with jaundice were 67 percent more likely than other babies to be diagnosed with autism, AP reports. The risk was even higher for babies born between October and March.

If you suspect your baby has jaundice, contact your health care provider. Treatments usually involve placing your baby under an ultraviolet light, extra fluids and a few minutes in sunshine a day.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.