Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 6, pp 1104-1111

Head Circumference as an Early Predictor of Autism Symptoms in Younger Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Lauren M. ElderAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Autism Center, University of Washington
  • , Geraldine DawsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Autism Center, University of WashingtonDepartment of Psychiatry, Autism Center, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Karen TothAffiliated withChildren’s Hospital
  • , Deborah FeinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Connecticut
  • , Jeff MunsonAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Autism Center, University of Washington

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Abstract

Siblings of children with autism have an increased risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). As children with autism often exhibit an atypical trajectory of head circumference (HC) growth, HC may be an indicator of vulnerability to autism. This study investigated whether infant siblings of children with ASD (n = 77) with an atypical trajectory of HC growth were more likely than those without an atypical HC trajectory to develop autism symptoms. Results showed that infants who had larger HC at 12 months, and whose HC growth rate decelerated more rapidly between 12 and 24 months were more likely to exhibit autism symptoms than infants with more typical HC trajectories. Among infant siblings of children with autism, atypical HC growth might alert pediatricians to provide screening and/or referral for further evaluation.

Keywords

Autism Head circumference Infant siblings