Correlates of Head Circumference Growth in Infants Later Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.
Journal of Child Neurology (Impact Factor: 1.72). 07/2007; 22(6):700-13. DOI: 10.1177/0883073807304005
Source: PubMed


Previous research has demonstrated that children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder show an abnormal acceleration of head growth during the first year of life. This study attempts to replicate these findings and to determine whether overgrowth is associated with clinical outcome. Measurements of head circumference, body length, and body weight taken during the first 2 years of life were obtained from a sample of 35 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and compared to both national normative data (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and a control group of 37 healthy infants. Results demonstrated that compared to national averages, infants who were later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder had a significantly smaller head circumference at birth to 2 weeks and a significantly larger head circumference by 10 to 14 months. Children with autism spectrum disorder were also significantly longer and heavier beginning at 1 to 2 months. However, when overall length and weight were controlled, head circumference was not bigger in the autistic spectrum disorder group compared to local controls. Correlations between head circumference and clinical outcome were significant for 5 of the 30 clinical variables that were run, suggesting that there appears to be no simple or straightforward relationship between head circumference and clinical outcome. Smaller head circumference at birth to 2 weeks was associated with a greater number of symptoms related to social impairment and a greater total number of autism spectrum disorder symptoms based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , Fourth Edition criteria. Larger head circumference at 15 to 25 months was also associated with a greater number of symptoms of social impairment. In addition, greater head circumference change during the first 2 years was associated with poorer performance on the visual reception subtest of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning and a smaller number of stereotyped and repetitive behaviors and interests based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition criteria. These findings support previous findings of accelerated brain growth during the first year of life in autism spectrum disorder and question whether growth factors might contribute to both accelerated brain growth and overall body growth.

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    • "; Mraz , Green , Dumont - Mathieu , Makin , & Fein , 2007 ) at birth than in TD children . Abnormal acceleration in HC growth rate in ASD begins within the first year of life ( Chawarska et al . , 2011 ; Dawson et al . , 2006 ; Dissanayake et al . , 2006 ; Fukumoto et al . , 2008 ; Gillberg , 2002 ; Lainhart et al . , 2006 ; Mills et al . , 2007 ; Mraz et al . , 2007 ; Rommelse et al . , 2011 ; Webb et al . , 2007 ) , followed by a period of deceleration sometime between 1 and 5 years of age ( Courchesne et al . , 2001 ; Dawson et al . , 2006 ; Lainhart et al . , 2006 ; Redcay & Courchesne , 2005 ; Rommelse et al . , 2011 ) . This deceler - ation continues so that by late adolescence there is very l"
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    ABSTRACT: Head circumference growth in individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has been well characterized in the first two to three years of life and reflects a period of acceleration followed by a period of deceleration when compared with their typically developing (TD) peers. While this altered growth trajectory has been consistently found for head circumference, it is less clear if an abnormal growth trajectory also exists across measures of height and weight. Moreover, most studies have focused on infancy and early childhood, and no longitudinal data have been collected in older children with ASD. This review focuses on the physical growth trajectory of individuals with ASD, and proposes that a general growth dysregulation is present in ASD, and that an endophenotype within ASD may exist that is characteristic of extreme overgrowth. Two possible explanations for a general growth dysregulation are suggested: (1) a connective tissue disorder, which is frequently associated with increased height and disproportionate body ratios; and (2) a dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, which regulates growth hormones. The existence of a general growth dysregulation, and possible endophenotype, may serve as a potential biological marker in ASD.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Developmental Review
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    • "This would be consistent with the depressed level of IGF in the CSF in affected young babies, followed by the marked increase beginning around the age of 4 [59], in parallel with the proliferation of shortlength cerebral axons [52]. At birth, the HC of children later diagnosed with autism are often smaller than in healthy children [80] [81]. At 6–14 months, significantly increased HC ($2SD) is apparent in 59% of the neurologically abnormal patients. "
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    ABSTRACT: The basic hypothesis for this study is that reduced peripartum level of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF) due to genetic, epigenetic, or environmental factors is a sentinel biomarker of increased probability of later development of autism. The central objective of the resultant proposed study described here is examining if a correlation exists between the serum level of IGF in the fetus/newborn and the probability of autism developing later in the child. Mechanisms possibly causing such a decrease are considered. This would define a prospective biomarker for and possible etiology of this disorder. Insulin-like growth factor-1 directly affects the rate at which oligodendrocytes promote myelination in the central nervous system, especially in the brain. Factors which reduce the production or availability of IGF could retard normal nerve programming in the fetus or neonate. Thus, it would be desirable to arrest the pathologic processes of autism in the early neonatal stage before irreversible nerve damage occurs.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Medical Hypotheses
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    • "This report contributes a description of head circumference changes across the first year of life to an evidentiary base for further understanding early human development. Data suggesting that head growth may be but one element in processes operational at the whole body level include observations that a pattern of growth characterized not only by a relatively smaller head circumference at birth, followed by rapid subsequent growth, but also by a relatively longer and heavier infant by 3–6 months of age is associated with autism spectrum disorder [7] [8] [9]. These observations raise questions regarding the mechanisms by which head and body growth might be related, and the nature of the biological system that coordinates normal growth of the whole body. "
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    ABSTRACT: Rapid growth rates of head circumference and body size during infancy have been reported to predict developmental pathologies that emerge during childhood. This study investigated whether growth in head circumference was concordant with growth in body length. Forty infants (16 males) were followed between the ages of 2 days and 21 months for durations ranging from 4 to 21 months (2616 measurements). Longitudinal anthropometric measurements were assessed weekly (n=12), semi-weekly (n=24) and daily (n=4) during home visits. Individual head circumference growth was investigated for the presence of saltatory patterns. Coincident analysis tested the null hypothesis that head growth was randomly coupled to length growth. Head circumference growth during infancy is saltatory (p<0.05), characterized by median increments of 0.20 cm (95% confidence interval, 0.10-0.30 cm) in 24-h, separated by intervals of no growth ranging from 1 to 21 days. Daily assessments identified that head growth saltations were coupled to length growth saltations within a median time frame of 2 days (interquartile 0-4, range 1-8 days). Assessed at semi-weekly and weekly intervals, an average 82% (SD 0.13) of head growth saltations was non-randomly concordant with length growth (p≤0.006). Normal infant head circumference grows by intermittent, episodic saltations that are temporally coupled to growth in total body length by a process of integrated physiology that remains to be described.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · Early human development
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