(WASHINGTON) -- Newborns diagnosed with jaundice at birth are at a greater risk of developing autism, according to researchers. Their study, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that full-term infants who had jaundice were 67 percent more likely to develop autism. These statistics were based on data they collected from babies born in Denmark between 1994 and 2004.
According to AFP, this percentage was based on data researchers collected from babies born in Denmark between 1994 and 2004. Researchers also found an infant's risk for autism increased if the mother had previously given birth to other children, and if the baby was born between October and March. They suggest this seasonal difference may be attributed to infections or daylight exposure, which affects jaundice.
As for the higher risk among children who are not firstborns, researchers say it could be due to varying levels of antibodies in mothers who have undergone multiple pregnancies, or to discrepancies in health care access among women post-delivery.
About 60 percent of term infants are born with jaundice and are cleared of it within their first week of life. It usually occurs when the production of bilirubin, a substance found in bile, is elevated. If neonatal jaundice doesn't resolve quickly, the study says prolonged exposure to high levels of bilirubin can result in lifelong developmental problems.
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