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Little effort has been made to characterize the developmental anatomic
phenotype of autism; although there is evidence of an increased head
circumference and brain size, few other physical characteristics have been
studied. The head circumference, body length/height, and weight
measurements of infants, who were later diagnosed with high-functioning
autism (HFA, n = 16) and Asperger disorder (AsD, n =
12), were extracted from health records over the first 3 years of life and
compared to the measurements of a matched normal control group (n
= 19). Using linear mixed-effects models, no differences were found in the
average growth rate for head circumference, stature, or weight between the
children with HFA and AsD. However, a significantly higher growth rate in
body length/height and weight was found for the combined group of
children with HFA and AsD compared to the normal control group. A trend
toward higher growth rate in head circumference was also found among the
former group. The results indicate that growth dysregulation in autism is
not specific to the brain but also involves growth in stature.
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