Studies have shown that children later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in their first years of life might show symptoms in main developmental areas and that these signs might be sensed by the parents. The present study investigated in a large birth cohort if children later diagnosed with ASD had deviations at 6 and 18 months in areas such as the ability to self‐regulate emotions, feeding, and sleeping. The study was based on prospective information collected from 76,322 mothers who participated in the Danish National Birth Cohort. When the children reached an average age of 11 years, 973 children with ASD and a control group of 300 children with intellectual disability (IDnoASD) were identified via Danish health registries.
Associations were found between short periods of breast‐feeding and the children later diagnosed with ASD and IDnoASD as well as associations at 18 months to deviations in regulation of emotions and activity. The similarities in these associations emphasize how difficult it is to distinguish between diagnoses early in life.
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