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Extremely preterm children at increased risk of autism spectrum disorders

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What is the prevalence of, and correlates for, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in extremely preterm children?


All extremely preterm children (<26-week gestation) born in the UK and Ireland from March to December 2005 were recruited into the study. Two-hundred and nineteen (71%) of the 307 children surviving till 11 years of age participated in this study. The comparison group of term-born children (classmates) was selected when the extremely preterm children were 6 years old: for each extremely preterm child, one term-born classmate was randomly selected from three classmates of the same age, ethnicity and sex. New classmates were selected in the same way if the extremely preterm child changed schools, or the comparator child did not participate in the study.


Population study, UK and Ireland; recruitment March to December 1995.


All children were assessed at 6 and 11 years of age. Data on neonatal course for extremely preterm children were collected at hospital discharge. A paediatrician and psychologist, blinded to allocation, assessed all children at school, home or hospital. At 2.5 years, parents of extremely preterm children used the Child Behaviour Checklist to rate behavioural problems. At 6 years, parents and teachers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. IQ was assessed using the Kaufman-Assessment Battery for Children at 6 and 11 years. At 11 years, parents completed the Social Communication Questionnaire (SCQ) which …

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  • Sources of funding Medical Research Council, London, UK.


  • Competing interests None.

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