A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Fall, 2020 | Number 4, Volume 34

Standard newborn hearing test may help identify autism

A standard hearing test given routinely to newborns may help doctors identify autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to new research. 

Oren Miron and colleagues analyzed data on nearly 140,000 newborns who underwent the auditory brainstem response (ABR) test, which is typically administered in hospital maternity wards. Of the children, 321 were later diagnosed with ASD. The researchers found that newborns who later received an ASD diagnosis had slower brain responses to sounds during their tests. The differences were especially pronounced in the right ear. These findings, they say, are similar to the findings seen in older infants and children with ASD. 

Study co-author Elizabeth Simpson says, “We’re not at the point just yet where we’re telling clinicians to use ABR testing as a determinant for autism in babies. But we are saying that this study presents a promising direction in how ABR testing can be used as a method for precise autism detection at birth.”


“Prolonged auditory brainstem response in universal hearing screening of newborns with autism spectrum disorder,” Oren Miron, Rafael E. Delgado, Christine F. Delgado, Elizabeth A. Simpson, Kun-Hsing Yu, Anibal Gutierrez, Guangyu Zeng, Jillian N. Gerstenberger, and Isaac S. Kohane, Autism Research, November 2020 (free online). Address: Isaac S. Kohane, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, [email protected]


“Hearing test may detect autism in newborns,” news release, University of Miami, November 12, 2020.