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 Repair California


    June 16, 2021 at 21:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bank of america near me

    Hello there! I could have sworn Iíve visited this website before but after looking at many of the articles I realized itís new to me. Nonetheless, Iím certainly happy I came across it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!


    June 16, 2021 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. subs near me

    Aw, this was an extremely nice post. Finding the time and actual effort to generate a really good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I procrastinate a whole lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.


    June 17, 2021 at 02:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. pharmacepticacom

    chloroquine side effects https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 17, 2021 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Nearest RV Repair

    I was able to find good advice from your articles.


    June 17, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Nearby RV Repair

    Itís hard to find educated people on this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 17, 2021 at 04:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Sprinter Repair Costa Mesa


    June 17, 2021 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair California

    I was able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    June 17, 2021 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. post office near me


    June 17, 2021 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. pizza delivery near me

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs a lot more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the information!


    June 17, 2021 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 711 near me


    June 17, 2021 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. wells fargo atm near me

    Oh my goodness! Impressive article dude! Thank you so much, However I am encountering difficulties with your RSS. I donít understand the reason why I can't join it. Is there anybody else having identical RSS issues? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    June 18, 2021 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. lakes near me

    A fascinating discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to write more about this issue, it might not be a taboo matter but usually people don't speak about such subjects. To the next! Cheers!!


    June 18, 2021 at 01:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. trader joe's near me

    Itís hard to come by experienced people on this subject, but you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 18, 2021 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. RV Repair Shops Nearby


    June 18, 2021 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. RV Repair Places Near Me

    Can I simply just say what a comfort to find someone that actually understands what they are discussing online. You definitely realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people must read this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you are not more popular since you surely have the gift.


    June 18, 2021 at 13:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. https://Indianhelpline.in/business-contact/13737-siddharth-diagnostic-centre/index.html

    Link exchange is nothing else but it is simply placing the
    other person's webpage link on your page at proper place and other person will
    also do similar for you.

    June 18, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Repair Shop Near Me


    June 18, 2021 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. https://xe88-my.com

    Wow, incredible blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of
    your site is great, let alone the content!

    Visit my site :: download ok388 [https://xe88-my.com]

    June 18, 2021 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. rv storage near me

    I'm very happy to uncover this page. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely loved every bit of it and I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff on your site.


    June 18, 2021 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Nearby RV Repairs


    June 19, 2021 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Hi there! This post couldnít be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I'll send this post to him. Fairly certain he's going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


    June 19, 2021 at 02:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. RV Repair Near My Location

    I like it whenever people come together and share ideas. Great website, keep it up!


    June 19, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Repair Nearby

    The very next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't disappoint me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, nonetheless I truly believed you would have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you can fix if you weren't too busy searching for attention.


    June 19, 2021 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Repair Near Me Now

    There's certainly a great deal to find out about this issue. I really like all the points you made.


    June 19, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. mola tv pbsi home tournament

    My family every time say that I am killing my
    time here at web, however I know I am getting familiarity daily by reading such good content.

    June 19, 2021 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Camper Repair Shops Near Me

    Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!


    June 19, 2021 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sprinter Repair Orange County

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me. Thank you!


    June 19, 2021 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Nearby RV Repair


    June 19, 2021 at 11:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Repair Shops Near Me


    June 19, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. demo ok388

    This excellent website certainly has all the information and facts I
    needed concerning this subject and didn't know who to ask.

    Also visit my blog post ... demo ok388

    June 19, 2021 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Repair Garden Grove

    Excellent article. I'm experiencing many of these issues as well..


    June 19, 2021 at 18:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    Good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon). I have saved it for later!


    June 19, 2021 at 20:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Sprinter Repair Shops Near Me

    Right here is the right web site for everyone who wants to understand this topic. You understand so much its almost tough to argue with you (not that I really would want toÖHaHa). You definitely put a brand new spin on a subject that's been written about for ages. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!


    June 19, 2021 at 22:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. RV Repair Mission Viejo

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thanks for providing these details.


    June 20, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Content Marketing Specialist


    June 20, 2021 at 00:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Kaitlyn Beiswenger

    Hi, check this product that can help to take care of your hair: https://bit.ly/3gJqhQH


    June 20, 2021 at 07:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Caprice Novelly

    Itís hard to come by knowledgeable people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 20, 2021 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Aubrey Sauredo

    Like videos on the internet. I think people should have to have proof, cause there are a lot of trolls, you know people with no life that have nothing better to do than screw things up for everyone else..


    June 20, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. gnc near me

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and practice something from other websites.


    June 20, 2021 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. RV Repair Garden Grove


    June 20, 2021 at 23:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Refugio Cherubino

    Can I start a blog that has recording of bad customer service?


    June 21, 2021 at 08:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. butcher shop near me

    That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate informationÖ Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!


    June 21, 2021 at 09:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Van Alignment Shop Near Me

    Greetings! Very useful advice in this particular article! It is the little changes that produce the biggest changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 21, 2021 at 13:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Repair Fountain Valley


    June 21, 2021 at 15:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. macy's near me


    June 21, 2021 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. pharmaceptica

    can erectile dysfunction cause depression https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 19:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. outlet mall near me

    Hi, I do think this is an excellent blog. I stumbledupon it 😉 I'm going to return once again since I book-marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help others.


    June 21, 2021 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Suspension Repair Near Me


    June 22, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Body Repair Shops Near Me

    I seriously love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as Iím trying to create my very own site and would love to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    June 22, 2021 at 17:56 | 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.