Meconium exposure and autism risk

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This study aims to determine whether fetal meconium passage is associated with autism.


This retrospective birth cohort analysis of 9 945 896 children born in California 1991 to 2008 linked discharge diagnosis and procedure codes for prenatal stressors, meconium-stained amniotic fluid (MSAF) and meconium aspiration syndrome (MAS) with autism diagnoses for 47 277 children through 2012. We assessed the relative risk of autism by meconium status using logistic regression, adjusting for demographic and clinical features.


Children exposed to meconium (MSAF and MAS) were more likely to be diagnosed with autism in comparison with unexposed children (0.60% and 0.52%, vs 0.47%, respectively). In adjusted analyses, there was a small increase in autism risk associated with MSAF exposure (adjusted relative risk (aRR) 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12 to 1.25), and a marginal association that failed to achieve significance between MAS and autism (aRR 1.08, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.20).


Resuscitation of neonates with respiratory compromise from in utero meconium exposure may mitigate long-term neurodevelopmental damage.

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