Baby's poor head and neck control may be an autism clue
May 17th, 2012
01:49 PM ET

Baby's poor head and neck control may be an autism clue

Early research suggests that if a 6-month old baby has "head lag," or weak head and neck control, it may be an early sign of autism or another language/social developmental delay.

The test is simple - babies who are lying on the floor are pulled up into a sitting position. If the baby's head is not moving forward as you pull the baby up, it's a sign of weak head and neck control.

Researchers already know that head lag could be an early sign that a child's nervous system is not developing correctly. They've seen this in children with cerebral palsy and preterm infants, for example. But so far it had not been documented in children with autism.

Researchers at Baltimore's Kennedy Krieger Institute looked at a small sample of babies who were already at high risk for autism because they had a sibling with autism. If a couple already has one child with an autism spectrum disorder there's a nearly 1 in 5 chance that the second child will have autism too. According to the latest CDC estimates, 1 in 88 children in the United States has an autism diagnosis. It's 5 times more common in boys than girls.

A group of 40 babies were tested at 6 months. Ten children were later diagnosed with ASD at the age of 3. Nine of those 10 babies had head lag when they were 6 months old.

More than half of the children (54%) who were later diagnosed with language or social developmental delays but not autism also had head lag at 6 months, says Rebecca Landa, one of the study authors and the director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger.

In a second study that compared 20 high risk babies to 21 low-risk babies, 75% in the high risk category showed signs of head lag at six months compared to only 33% in the low-risk group.

Landa acknowledges that this research, presented Thursday at a meeting of the International Society for Autism Research in Toronto, is very preliminary and needs to be confirmed in larger studies.

She also cautions that weak head and neck control doesn't automatically mean your baby will develop autism. But, Landa says, if you already have a child with autism and your baby is showing this kind of problem, you should take the child to see a specialist.

"If you don't have a family history of autism, and your child had head lag at 6 months - it might be something else, or might be nothing, but it's important to check it out," she says.

The goal is to identify a child with autism as early as possible so therapy can start early.

"We don't want to wait until children are 1 or 2 when they are more likely to show symptoms of autism."

Alycia Halladay, director of research for environmental sciences at the advocacy group Autism Speaks, says this is a very important study and deserves replication. She says it's too early to consider head lag a diagnostic marker, it's one of many red flags that parents may notice very early in development and something a doctor can easily check out.

Halladay, who was not involved in the research, says "this provides something that parents can bring to their doctors beyond just a concern."

Landa says she doesn't want to scare every parent into thinking their child may have autism because their little one has poor postural control, especially because in some children the problem goes away.

However, this is a simple test that doesn't cost anything, doesn't hurt a child, and - if a child were referred to therapy - doesn't hurt a child but can enrich their development, with or without a subsequent autism diagnosis.

Landa says parents can easily be trained to help their baby improve head and neck control. She suggests Googling "tummy time," which can lead parents to a lot of good information on fun and supportive tummy time exercises to help build their baby's neck muscles.

She also suggests sitting babies up, holding babies at the hips and slowly rocking them from side to side - just enough so that the baby leans to the center, which she says activates the core muscles so the baby stays balanced. Babies love it, especially if you sing a song while doing this.

soundoff (956 Responses)
  1. rv slide out remodel


    May 26, 2021 at 03:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. custom rv paint


    May 26, 2021 at 04:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. casino royale sinopsis

    I was very pleased to find this website. I want to to thank you for
    ones time just for this fantastic read!! I definitely savored every
    part of it and I have you saved as a favorite to check out new things on your website.

    May 26, 2021 at 04:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. avana

    avanafil vs cialis buy avanafil online

    May 26, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. rv remodeling companies near me

    Can I simply say what a comfort to find an individual who actually knows what they're talking about on the internet. You certainly understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised you aren't more popular since you surely possess the gift.


    May 26, 2021 at 05:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Soosteemocush

    https://tadagatadalafil.com/ tadalafil cost walmart https://cttadalafil.com/ – where to buy cialis without prescription tadalafil cost in canada

    May 26, 2021 at 05:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Tembepteriope

    tadalafil side effects cheap generic cialis for sale where to buy cialis without prescription side effects of tadalafil https://tadalafilol.com/ – tadalafil generic

    May 26, 2021 at 06:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. horse hauler motorhome

    After I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I receive 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!


    May 26, 2021 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cua hang may tinh PC

    Hey this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use
    WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML.
    I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding expertise so
    I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would
    be greatly appreciated!

    May 26, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Tembepteriope

    sildenafil tablets 100mg what is sildenafil citrate buy sildenafil tadalafil vs sildenafil https://aralenquinesab.com/ – sildenafil 50 mg price

    May 26, 2021 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. orange near me


    May 26, 2021 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tembepteriope

    https://chloroquinesen.com/ sildenafil online https://hydrochloroquinebtc.com/ – sildenafil goodrx what is sildenafil used for

    May 26, 2021 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. rv parts los angeles


    May 26, 2021 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Bay Doors Near Me


    May 26, 2021 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. yorba linda dump

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying this information.


    May 26, 2021 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Tembepteriope

    https://chloroquinesop.com/ sildenafil reviews https://hydroxychloroquineth.com/ – cheap sildenafil sildenafil 100 mg

    May 26, 2021 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. rv repairman near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest of the site is also very good.


    May 26, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. furniture repair shops near me


    May 26, 2021 at 17:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv parks orange county ca

    Saved as a favorite, I like your web site!


    May 26, 2021 at 18:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Tembepteriope

    sildenafil mechanism of action https://chloroquineef.com/ sildenafil for sale sildenafil citrate 20 mg sildenafil for women

    May 26, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Local Marketing Agency

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. I do believe that you need to write more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people do not speak about these issues. To the next! Kind regards!!


    May 26, 2021 at 22:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. brimonidine

    buy generic brimonidine buy generic brimonidine

    May 26, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. https://www.yamatocosmos.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    May 26, 2021 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Dodge Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post and also the rest of the website is very good.


    May 26, 2021 at 23:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Soosteemocush

    cialis tadalafil https://tadalafilol.com/ – buy cialis what is tadalafil tadalafil https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. combigan

    brimonidine eye drops generic brimonidine

    May 27, 2021 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tembepteriope

    sildenafil citrate 20 mg tadalafil vs sildenafil sildenafil 50 mg price sildenafil 100mg price https://hydroaaralen.com/ – sildenafil 100mg coupon

    May 27, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Tembepteriope

    sildenafil contraindications https://hydroaaralen.com/ – how long does it take for sildenafil to take effect sildenafil 50 mg price roman sildenafil roman sildenafil

    May 27, 2021 at 04:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Tembepteriope

    sildenafilo https://erythromycin1m.com/ – what is sildenafil sildenafil price walmart sildenafil 20 mg https://hydroaralenus.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 05:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. tausAffessy

    tadalafil brands https://tadacipetadalafil.com/ – tadalafil generic where to buy tadalafil generic where to buy tadalafil price walmart tadalafil cost in canada

    May 27, 2021 at 05:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 제주룸

    Hurrah, that's what I was looking for, what a data! existing here at this webpage, thanks admin of this web

    May 27, 2021 at 05:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Consultants

    Hi, I do think this is a great blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    May 27, 2021 at 05:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Tembepteriope

    https://hydrochloroquineeth.com/ sildenafil vs viagra https://hydrochloroquinetrx.com/ – how long does sildenafil last sildenafil 100mg price

    May 27, 2021 at 06:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. airstream restoration california

    Having read this I thought it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this article together. I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!


    May 27, 2021 at 06:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. https://shiatsu-web.com

    Best view i have ever seen !


    May 27, 2021 at 07:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. rv repair and service near me


    May 27, 2021 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Tritreviewifind

    lowest price cialis https://tadalafilol.com/ – best price usa tadalafil tadalafil liquid tadalafil order online no prescription https://tadacipetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 11:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Unitmerienepeft

    generic cialis online fast shipping cialis at canadian pharmacy generic cialis online fast shipping cost of cialis https://apcalisetadalafil.com/

    May 27, 2021 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. gallery xnxx

    Good article. I will be going through some of these issues as well..


    May 27, 2021 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. class c renovation

    This website was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Cheers!


    May 27, 2021 at 19:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. tadalafil 40

    liquid tadalafil side effects https://tadalisxs.com/ liquid tadalafil side effects

    May 27, 2021 at 21:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. rv storage orange ca

    Spot on with this write-up, I honestly think this website needs much more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the information!


    May 27, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. RV TV Riverside


    May 27, 2021 at 21:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Sound System Near Me

    Good blog you've got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours nowadays. I really appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!


    May 27, 2021 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Renovation Riverside


    May 28, 2021 at 00:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. RV Blinds Los Angeles


    May 28, 2021 at 00:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Social Media Marketing Services

    You've made some really good points there. I looked on the web to find out more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this website.


    May 28, 2021 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Content Marketing Near Me


    May 28, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. speed shop orange county

    You've made some really good points there. I looked on the net for additional information about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this website.


    May 28, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. vinyl repair near me

    Hi, I do believe this is a great website. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to revisit once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to guide others.


    May 28, 2021 at 03:54 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.