As a psychologist and foster mom, I get asked about autism a lot. Usually the questions come from the latest study to hit the news. Oftentimes, the research conclusions made by the public stretch beyond the scope that the investigators intended. A prime example of this is found in this press release titled Bigger Birthweight Babies at Greater Risk of Autism. Not cool. Not accurate, not true and not cool. If you view the original article found at The American Journal of Psychiatry, just the title alone “Deviance in Fetal Growth and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder” (Abel, Dalman, Svensson, Susser, Dal, Idring, Webb, Rai & Magnusson, 2013) suggests a more limited conclusion. It’s not bigger babies, its abnormally bigger AND smaller babies. By bigger babies, they mean at least 9 pounds 15 ounces or more. By smaller babies, they mean 5 pounds 4 ounces or less. Sound a little different now?
Here is some basic criteria when assessing the credibility of an autism study: