TV, video time in infancy is not linked to autism risk

  • Heffler KF & al.
  • JAMA Pediatr
  • 20.04.2020

  • von Susan London
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) risk at age 2 years was not associated with exposure to television/videos at age 1 year or with a history of daily parent-child play in this cohort study.
  • Toddlers exposed to television/video in infancy tended to have higher scores on an autism screening tool.
  • Daily parent-child play was associated with lower scores on the tool.
  • High video/television viewing levels at age 18 months showed no associations with screening scores or ASD risk at age 2 years.

Why this matters

  • An editorial notes that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no digital media before age 18 months.
  • Autism is associated with events during embryonic and fetal development.

Key results

  • Neither screen exposure nor parent-child play was significantly associated with ASD risk.
  • Scores on the revised Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT-R) at age 2 years were:
    • Higher with any television and/or video viewing at age 12 months vs no viewing: 4.2% (95% CI, 0.1%-8.3%).
    • Lower with parent-child play daily vs less than daily at age 12 months: −8.9% (95% CI, −16.5% to −0.9%).
    • Unaffected by high levels of television/video viewing at age 18 months.
  • No significant associations seen for time spent by caregiver reading to child at 12 months of age.

Study design

  • US multicenter prospective cohort study, 2152 children enrolled at birth (2010-2012).
  • Main outcomes:
    • M-CHAT-R scores.
    • ASD risk per M-CHAT-R.
  • Funding: None disclosed.

Limitations

  • Selection bias; included only parents willing to participate.
  • Possible false-positives on screening tool.
  • Exposures based on simple questions capturing limited detail.
  • Direction of associations is unknown.