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, Isaac S. Kohane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Previous studies report prolonged auditory brainstem response (ABR) in children and adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite its promise as a biomarker, it is unclear whether healthy newborns who later develop ASD also show ABR abnormalities. In the current study, we extracted ABR data on 139,154 newborns from their Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, including 321 newborns who were later diagnosed with ASD. We found that the ASD newborns had significant prolongations of their ABR phase and V-negative latency compared with the non-ASD newborns. Newborns in the ASD group also exhibited greater variance in their latencies compared to previous studies in older ASD samples, likely due in part to the low intensity of the ABR stimulus. These findings suggest that newborns display neurophysiological variation associated with ASD at birth. Future studies with higher-intensity stimulus ABRs may allow more accurate predictions of ASD risk, which could augment the universal ABR test that currently screens millions of newborns worldwide. Lay Summary: Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have slow brain responses to sounds. We examined these brain responses from newborns' hearing tests and found that newborns who were later diagnosed with autism also had slower brain responses to sounds. Future studies might use these findings to better predict autism risk, with a hearing test that is already used on millions of newborns worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-52
Number of pages7
JournalAutism Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • auditory
  • biomarker
  • children
  • event-related potential
  • infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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