Decades of brain injury research has culminated in a shocking revelation: a link between brain damage in premature newborns and autism. The findings were recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics. The Neonatal Brain Hemorrhage Study began in the 1980s, with researchers looking at the impact that brain injuries at birth have on premature newborns. Using cranial ultrasounds, researchers were able to analyze the brains of more than 1,000 babies weighing between 1.1 and 4.4 pounds.

A Lifetime of Research

These ultrasounds revealed which infants had suffered brain injuries, hemorrhaging, or ventricular enlargements in their brain tissue. By tracking the participants through their lifetime and checking in with them at age 21, researchers noticed a dramatic pattern: premature babies who suffered brain injuries were three times as likely to develop autism than their premature peers who did not have brain injuries.

Scientists believe the link may lie in the damage done to the enlarged ventricles of some children suffering from brain injuries. When the spaces in their brain are filled with cerebrospinal fluid, there is a sevenfold increase in risk of autism when compared with controls.

Other Risk Factors

Low birth weight can also play a role in a child’s chances of developing autism. Because so much is still yet to be discovered about autism and how exactly it develops, these risk factors must be taken seriously. Still, not all children with low birth weights or those suffering from infant brain injuries necessarily develop autism.

Virginia Brain Injury Lawyers

Richard Serpe, a Virginia brain injury lawyer, represents victims that have sustained a traumatic brain injury in an accident that was caused by the negligence of someone else. If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of a brain injury, you can be sure that your case will be handled with the respect, dedication and urgency that it deserves. Visit for more information.