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New Study Finds Screen Time Creates Greater Risk for Autism-Like Symptoms in Infants

The risk for autism-like symptoms in infants may be increased by screen time in front of a tablet or television, and less parent-child play time, according to a new study from researchers at Drexel University’s College of Medicine and Dornsife School of Public Health. The study’s findings were published this month in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. Focusing on a group of 2,152 12 – 18-month-old children from the National Children’s Study, the researchers examined the connection between watching television or videos, as well as social play time and reading together, and autism risk at two years of age. The team ultimately found that viewing screens at 12 months old led to four percent greater autism-like symptoms. The findings are consistent with recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which discourages screen time in children younger than 18 months, with the exception of video chatting. Dr. David S. Bennet, a senior author of the study, said its findings “strengthen our understanding of the importance of play time between parents and children relative to screen time.” “There is a great opportunity for public health campaigns and pediatricians to educate and empower parents to possibly minimize their child’s risk of ASD symptoms,” Bennet said, “which may include increasing social interaction and limiting screens at an early age.”


The researchers clarified that their study suggests an increased risk of autism-like symptoms, rather than an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Further research is needed to investigate whether children predisposed to autism are drawn to the screens, or whether the screens contribute to ASD-like symptoms. In the meantime, the researchers recommend that parents adhere to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, and avoid screen time for children younger than 18 months. Source: https://drexel.edu/now/archive/2020/April/Screen-time-for-babies-linked-with-autism-like-symptoms/

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