- by Dr Gowher Yusuf
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- Aug 21 2017
5-Minute Screen for Signs of Autism Works in 1-Year-Olds
Source: The Journal of Pediatrics, published online April 28. 2011)
A simple checklist completed by parents can help doctors screen for signs of autism as early as the child’s first birthday, according to new research.
''I am hoping it will become the standard of care," researcher Karen Pierce, PhD, an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of San Diego School of Medicine, tells WebMD. She recently tested the screen, asking 137 pediatricians throughout San Diego County to take part. At the 12-month well baby visit, the doctors asked the parents to answer the 24-item checklist. The questions ask about their child's emotions, eye gaze, communication, gestures, and other behaviors.
The screen found suspected autism, autism spectrum disorder, language delays, or other developmental problems about 75% of the time, Pierce says. "One of every four times, it will be wrong," she says. "The price to pay for that is actually very tiny" compared to the benefit of early intervention. Currently, 5.7 years is the median age (half older, half younger) at which children receive an autism diagnosis, according to a 2009 study.
About one in 110 children in the U.S. have autism or autism spectrum disorder, a group of developmental disabilities that cause social, behavioral, and communication challenges.
Geraldine Dawson, PhD chief science officer for Autism Speaks says: "We do know that many babies who go on to develop autism begin to show symptoms early on, it may be half or more of all children with autism.” ''For babies who have this pattern of early onset, to use a screen that is quick and can be used in a pediatrician's office efficiently is of great value," she says. The earlier autism is detected, the earlier intervention can begin.
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