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Head size in autism questioned by new research

Lana Bandoim's picture
Is head size at birth linked to autism?

Scientists have been investigating the connection between head size in babies and autism for several years. A new study questions previous research and attempts to find answers by analyzing the head size of 700 infants. The results may surprise some families who have been following the research.


Previous studies have tried to find a link between the size of a baby’s head at birth and autism. There has been a long debate about this topic with suggestions that a smaller or larger head size at birth meant a higher risk of autism. However, scientists have always questioned these findings along with parents who did not think head circumference was a good point of evaluation.

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Research from the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reveals that scientists included 700 children in the study. Children with and without siblings who had autism were part of the group. In addition to measuring head circumference at birth, researchers followed the children up to the age of three. They continued to measure and record the head size and charted head growth during this time. The results showed no connection between head size and autism.

Scientists did not notice a difference in their results for children at higher risk of the disorder because of family history. Although they are encouraging more research in this area, using head circumference may not be the best indication of autism. However, there are still connections about brain growth that need to be answered, and the rate of growth is another factor that needs to be examined. Head size and body size provide easy measuring points for researchers, yet it is important not to neglect other factors that may be connected to autism. There are natural variations in the population that make people question if keeping track of size is enough.

Image: felipepuntocl/Wikimedia Commons



Our sons is adopted but we were told he had a big head which he does. We found it difficult to get clothes over his head when he was a baby. He was a low birth size. He was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 13. Hope this helps.
My son has always had a large head. He has been in the 90% range on the growth chart and he also has been diagnosed with Autism at age 2 1/2. I am sure there are many ways to foresee an Autism diagnosis, we just have to be open to the signs!