Importance Adverse perinatal circumstances have been associated with increased risk for autism in offspring. Women exposed to childhood abuse experience more adverse perinatal circumstances than women unexposed, but whether maternal abuse is associated with autism in offspring is unknown. Objectives To determine whether maternal exposure to childhood abuse is associated with risk for autism in offspring and whether possible increased risk is accounted for by a higher prevalence of adverse perinatal circumstances among abused women, including toxemia, low birth weight, gestational diabetes, previous induced abortion, intimate partner abuse, pregnancy length shorter than 37 weeks, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use, and alcohol use and smoking during pregnancy.

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