A novel strategy developed by autism researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, called "The One-Year Well-Baby Check Up Approach," shows promise as a simple way for physicians to detect cases of Autism Syndrome Disorder (ASD), language or developmental delays in babies at an early age.
Led by Karen Pierce, PhD, assistant professor in the UC San Diego Department of Neurosciences, researchers at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence (ACE) assembled a network of 137 pediatricians in the San Diego region and initiated a systematic screen program for all infants at their one-year check up. Their study will be published in the April 28 online edition of the Journal of Pediatrics.
"There is extensive evidence that early therapy can have a positive impact on the developing brain," said Pierce. "The opportunity to diagnose and thus begin treatment for autism around a child's first birthday has enormous potential to change outcomes for children affected with the disorder."
The study screened 10,479 one-year-olds in the San Diego region. At their child's regular one-year check up, parents or caregivers were given a brief questionnaire called the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist that asked questions about a child's use of eye contact, sounds, words, gestures, object recognition and other forms of age-appropriate communication. Any infant who failed the screening was referred to the ACE for further testing, and re-evaluated every six months until age 3.
Out of the more than 10,000 infants, 184 failed the initial screening and received further evaluation. To date, 32 of these children have received a provisional or final diagnosis of ASD, 56 of language delay, nine of developments delay, and 36 "other" totaling a positive predictive value of 75 percent using this simple, five-minute screening technique.
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|Contact: Debra Kain|
University of California - San Diego