Research Article - Current Pediatric Research (2022) Volume 26, Issue 4
Autism spectrum disorders and electronic screen devices exposure in Al-Nasiriya city 2019-2020.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) characterized by persistent impairment in social communication and interaction, and restricted repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests and activities. Many studies in different countries suggest that increased screen time exposure in young children is associated with negative health outcome such as: Impaired language development, mood and autistic like behavior. A cross sectional case control study was done in Al-Nasiriya city, south of Iraq, during a period of 2 years from 1st of January 2019 to the end of December 2020. The study included 107 child diagnosed with ASD in Al-Nasiriya Autism center, their mean age was 5.3 years, and 263 child included as a control group, their mean age was 5.6 years. Specially designed structured questionnaire was used to collect the information. The data was collected by direct face-to-face interview. Patients were followed up for a period of 6-12 months. The study showed that there was a significant relationship between age of starting electronic screen exposure and ASD in which more than 81% of ASD patients started electronic screen exposure at ≤ 2years of age (27.1% at age <1 year and 54.2% at age 1-2 years) compared to 62.8% of control group (P value=0.001). Most ASD patients (75.7%) watched screen devices for more than 4 hours/day (P value=0.001). TV watching has a significant relation with ASD, and mixed electronic devices watching was dominant in both groups (P value=0.001). Watching and listening to children songs was significantly associated with ASD, P value=0.001. There was a significant association between ASD and increased level of education of both parents. The study showed that there was a significant improvement in about 2/3 of patients after eliminating or reducing screen exposure. Early and prolonged exposure to screen devices is an important trigger for ASD. Education of society about the risk of early and prolonged exposure of children to electronic screen devices is recommended and screen device exposure for children below 2 years of age should be discouraged.Author(s): Raid K Dehiol*, Lamyaa Jawad Dawood, Razzaq Jameel Alrubaee