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Babies who watched television or video screens when they were 12 months old showed more autism-like symptoms when they reached age 2, a prospective study showed.

Similarly, 12-month-old infants who had daily play with their parents had fewer autism-like symptoms at age 2, reported David Bennett, PhD, of Drexel University College of Medicine in Philadelphia, and co-authors.

Viewing screens at age 12 months was associated with 4.2% greater autism spectrum disorder (ASD)-like symptoms compared with not viewing screens, the researchers wrote online in JAMA Pediatrics. Daily play time with a parent was associated with 8.9% fewer ASD-like symptoms compared with less frequent play, the team added….

“The findings highlight the possibility that environmental factors in the first year of life — specifically, playing with one’s child regularly and avoiding screens — could decrease the risk of autism symptoms at age 2 years,” he told MedPage Today

Television or video viewing when babies were 12 months old was significantly associated with greater ASD-like symptoms at age 2 years (change 4.2%, 95% CI 0.1%-8.3%), compared with no screen viewing. Daily parent-child play at age 12 months was significantly associated with fewer ASD-like symptoms at age 2 years (change −8.9%; 95% CI −16.5% to −0.9%) compared with less than daily play. Neither experience was associated with ASD risk…