What is the role of preeclampsia in the development of autism and developmental delay (DD)?

Updated: Nov 29, 2018
  • Author: Kee-Hak Lim, MD; Chief Editor: Ronald M Ramus, MD  more...
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Answer

Fetal exposure to preeclampsia may be linked to autism and developmental delay (DD). [94, 95]  In a population-based study of 1061 children from singleton pregnancies — including 517 with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), 194 with DD, and 350 who were typically developing (TD) — fetal exposure to preeclampsia was associated with a greater than twofold increase in the risk of ASD and a greater than fivefold increase in the risk of DD. [94, 95]

Of the children with ASD, 7.7% had been exposed to preeclampsia in utero, compared with 5.1% of those with DD and 3.7% of those with TD. [95]  After adjustment for parity, maternal education, and prepregnancy obesity, the adjusted odds ratio (aOR) for ASD with exposure to preeclampsia was 2.36 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18-4.68). In analyses limited to women who had had severe preeclampsia, the aOR for ASD was 2.29 (95% CI, 0.97-5.43), and the aOR for DD was 5.49 (95% CI, 2.06-14.64).


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