CHICAGO - AUTISM is more common in children who had jaundice at birth, a big Danish study found, but researchers cautioned they don't know how the two conditions might be related and that new parents shouldn't be alarmed.
Mild jaundice is fairly common and generally harmless. Severe, untreated jaundice is known to cause brain damage, but it's also rare and hasn't been proven to cause autism. It's possible that children genetically predisposed to autism might also be more vulnerable than others to jaundice.
But if autism and jaundice are related, the study doesn't answer whether one of the ailments might have caused the other, said Rikke Damkjaer Maimburg, the lead author and a researcher at Denmark's Aarhus University.
Mr Maimburg and colleagues examined medical data on all 733,826 children born in Denmark between 1994 and 2004. The results were prepared for release online Monday in Pediatrics.
More than 35,000 newborns had jaundice, while autism was eventually diagnosed in 577 children. Among autistic children, almost 9 per cent had jaundice as newborns, compared with 3 per cent of other children.
Previous studies on a possible autism-jaundice link have produced conflicting results. -- AP