This study tested the hypothesis that exposure of children prior to their third birthday to procedures requiring general anesthesia is associated with an increased incidence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in later life. This study employed a nested, 1:2 matched-case control study design using ASD cases identified in a population-based birth cohort of children born in Olmsted County, MN from 1976 to 2000. Matching variables included sex, date of birth, and mother’s age in conditional logistic regression including 499 ASD cases and 998 controls. After adjusting for birth weight and health status, there was no significant association between exposure and ASD (OR 1.27 [95% CI 0.92-1.76]), indicating that general anesthesia is not associated with an increased risk of ASD.

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Laporta et al.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders October 2021