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Exploring the Relation Between Prenatal and Neonatal Complications and Later Autistic-Like Features in a Representative Community Sample of Twins


  • We are indebted to participants of the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS) for making the study possible. The TEDS twin study was supported by a program grant MRC grant G0500079 from the UK Medical Research Council. P.B. was supported by the UK NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London and The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. A.R. was funded by an Autism Speaks fellowship.

concerning this article should be addressed to Angelica Ronald, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, School of Psychology, Birkbeck College, London WC1E 7XH, UK. Electronic mail may be sent to


Prenatal and neonatal events were reported by parents of 13,690 eighteen-month-old twins enrolled in the Twins Early Development Study, a representative community sample born in England and Wales. At ages 7–8, parents and teachers completed questionnaires on social and nonsocial autistic-like features and parents completed the Childhood Asperger Syndrome Test. Correlations between prenatal and neonatal events and autistic-like features were weak, both in the whole sample (= .00–.07) and at the 5% quantitative extreme (phenotypic group correlations = .01–.11), after controlling for socioeconomic status and cognitive ability. Neonatal problems showed modest heritability (13%–14%) and significant shared and nonshared environmental influences (55%–59% and 28%–31%, respectively). Differences in identical twins’ neonatal problems correlated weakly with their difference scores on autistic-like features (= .01–.06).