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"Jaundice is almost always harmless," Newman said. "The evidence for an association (with autism) is weak and inconsistent and evidence for causality nonexistent."
The study lacked data on severity of jaundice, which involves having elevated levels of bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is yellowish pigment created as the body recycles old red blood cells. It is processed by the liver; during pregnancy the mother's liver handles the job and sometimes newborns' livers take a while to kick in.
The autism-jaundice link was not seen in Danish children born prematurely. The authors said brain development near birth might be most vulnerable to high bilirubin levels, but that's only speculation.
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