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Prenatal ultrasound and childhood autism: long-term follow-up after a randomized controlled trial of first- vs second-trimester ultrasound.

Journal article
Authors Lotta Höglund Carlsson
Sissel Saltvedt
Britt-Marie Anderlid
Joakim Westerlund
Christopher Gillberg
Magnus Westgren
Elisabeth Fernell
Published in Ultrasound in obstetrics & gynecology : the official journal of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 48
Issue 3
Pages 285-288
ISSN 1469-0705
Publication year 2016
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 285-288
Language en
Keywords autism; children; early vs late; outcome; prenatal ultrasound
Subject categories Family Medicine


OBJECTIVES: To analyze whether the frequency of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) differs in Swedish cohorts of children exposed to ultrasound either in the 12th or 18th week of gestation. METHODS: The study cohort consisted of approximately 30 000 children with birth-years 1999-2003, born to mothers, who, within the framework of a study of nuchal translucency (NT) screening, had been randomized to prenatal ultrasound in either gestational week 12 or 18. The outcome measure in the present study was the rate of ASD diagnoses in the children. Information on ASD diagnoses was based on data from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency concerning granted childcare allowance because of ASD. RESULTS: No difference in ASD frequency between the early and later subgroup could be detected. A total of 14 726 children were born after early and 14 596 children after later ultrasound in 1999-2003 and of these, 181 (1.2%) and 176 (1.2%) children, respectively, had been diagnosed with ASD. CONCLUSIONS: Women, subjected to at least one prenatal ultrasound in either gestational week 12 or 18, had children with similar rates of ASD. However, the result reflects the routine used 10 to 15 years ago in Sweden. Today, many and early, higher intensity ultrasound scans are performed during pregnancy and also for non-medical purposes, implying longer exposure time for the fetus. This changing use of ultrasound necessitates further follow-up studies of the possible effects on the developing brain of high exposure to ultrasound during the gestational period.

Page Manager: Webmaster|Last update: 9/11/2012

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