Is there a link between autism and birth injuries?

May 20, 2023 | Crandall & Pera Law
Is there a link between autism and birth injuries?

A diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder leaves parents reeling, as their children will experience struggles trying to navigate a lifestyle or world that may not have the necessary accommodations for them. While scientists do not have a solid understanding of what causes ASD, there are links to certain conditions. Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered a link between cerebral palsy and ASD, but there are many individuals without cerebral palsy who also have an ASD diagnosis.

Though a common motor disability of children born in the United States, cerebral palsy is not the only birth injury possible and influencing factor in developing ASD. There is a connection between perinatal conditions and complications during childbirth with higher risks of developing ASD. Potential areas of concern include:
  • Preeclampsia
  • Birth asphyxia
  • Fetal dystocia
  • Umbilical cord prolapse
  • Maternal diabetes
There are not the only conditions that could impair a fetus during development or emerging in childbirth. Any complication left unaddressed, whether during development or during childbirth, could lead to serious injuries to an infant.

Brain trauma and autism

While ASD does not present with the same symptoms or physical conditions as cerebral palsy or another injury, there are physical differences in the brain function and structure of ASD patients. Irregularities in white matter are a leading concern, and white matter injury in infants occurs with disruption of oxygen to the fetus either during development or delivery. A traumatic birthing event, where the baby experiences significant distress, could lead to weakness or damage in parts the of brain. Birth injuries often have a connection to brain damage. These can potentially influence normal brain development and lead to a future ASD diagnosis.