BACKGROUND: Children born preterm are at high risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, there is still a lack of appropriate developmental markers. In this study, we aim to examine whether early mental performance trajectory is related to ASD outcome in the preterm population. METHODS: The population-based cohort included 414 very preterm survivors born between 2008 and 2014. After excluding children with severe neurosensory impairment, 319 children with available records of developmental quotients before age 2 years were enrolled. The trajectory of mental performance evaluated by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development across 6, 12, and 24 months of age was analyzed with group-based trajectory modeling. At 5 years of age, the ASD diagnosis was established by using the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised. RESULTS: There were 29 children with ASD and 290 children without ASD. The mental performances from age 6 to 24 months could be classified into 3 trajectory patterns: low declining, high declining, and high stable, which corresponded to ASD prevalence at age 5 years of 35%, 9%, and 3%, respectively. ASD odds was 15 times higher in the low-declining group than in the high-stable group (odds ratio 15; 95% confidence interval 3.8–59; P, .001). Through the analysis of multinomial logistic regression, we found that male infants with longer exposure to oxygen therapy whose mothers had lower maternal education levels tended to follow the low-declining trajectory. CONCLUSIONS: The early-life mental trajectory patterns, by using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development, may lead to identification of vulnerable children born preterm for early ASD diagnosis and targeted intervention.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health