Research has put into light the fact that sleep complications in the first twelve months of a baby’s life could further lead to an autism diagnosis. Moreover, it changes the course of growth in hippocampus, which is an integral part of the brain. Annette Estes is the senior author of this study and also the director of the UW Autism Centre.
She remarked, “The hippocampus is critical for learning and memory, and changes in the size of the hippocampus have been associated with poor sleep in adults and older children. As many as 80 per cents of the children with autism spectrum disorder have sleep problems.”
American Journal of Psychiatry published this research. In order to arrive at such a conclusion, more than 400 samples were taken of children aged between six months and a year. The infants who were later detected to have autism have had to undergo issues in falling asleep.
Estes further said, “It could be that altered sleep is part-and-parcel of autism for some children. One clue is that behavioural interventions to improve sleep don’t work for all children with autism, even when their parents are doing everything just right.”
She continued, “This suggests that there may be a biological component to sleep problems for some children with autism.” Minute segregation was done to separate infants who had high-risk of being diagnosed with autism from the ones who had a lower risk for the same.
Almost two-thirds of the samples collected were of those children who ran a greater probability of being examined with the same. It is interesting to note that the infants in question already had an older sibling who had been diagnosed with the disease.
Out of the 432 samples taken, 127 of them were declared to be of “low-risk”. That is because there was no history of autism in their respective families. Later on, the children were diagnosed when they were aged two years. There, 71 out of the 300 participants who were initially said to be in the high-risk lot were identified with autism.
The study said that parents who complained about their child’s irregular sleeping cycle, later on, contact autism compared to other kids. It should be considered that sleep patterns of children revolve over a course of time as the infants tend to develop a more well-rounded cycle of rest alike the adults. Estes hence pointed out that further research and studies need to be done to conclude that disturbances with sleep in earlier stages of life could definitely be a preceding factor of autism.
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