Association between Screen Time Exposure in Children at 1 Year of Age and Autism Spectrum Disorder at 3 Years of Age

A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics examined the association between screen time exposure during infancy and the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – at 3 years of age.

This was a cohort study that analyzed data of 84,030 mother-child dyads from Japan between January 2011 and March 2014. Mothers whose children were diagnosed with ASD at 3 years of age participated in a questionnaire.

The findings revealed that prevalence of ASD among children at 3 years of age was 392 per 100,000; that is, 0.4%; boys were three times more likely to have been diagnosed with ASD than girls. Among boys, a screen time exposure of less than 1 hour per day depicted the odds ratio of 1.38. While the odds ratio for 1 hour to less than 2 hours of screen time was 2.16; 2 hours to less than 4 hours was 3.48; and more than 4 hours was 3.02. Whereas, among girls an association between ASD diagnosis and screen time exposure could not be described.

It was inferred that longer screen time at 1 year of age was significantly associated with ASD diagnosis at 3 years of age among boys. Hence, it is essential to review the health effects of screen time exposure on infants and to control excessive device usage among infants and children.

Source: JAMA Pediatrics. 2022 Apr 1;176(4):384-391. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.5778.

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