PAS: ASD Screen of Preterm Babies May Be Inaccurate

Screening very preterm infants for autism at 18 months may not provide accurate results

MONDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Screening extremely preterm infants for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) at 18 months of age may not provide accurate results, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, held from April 30 to May 3 in Denver.

Bonnie E. Stephens, M.D., of Brown University's Alpert School of Medicine in Providence, R.I., and colleagues screened 152 infants born before 28 weeks' gestation for ASD at 18 months (age corrected for prematurity) and 116 infants at 30 months corrected-age using three measures, including one specifically designed for use in high-risk populations.

The investigators found that 18 percent of infants screened positive for ASD at 18 months and 10 percent screened positive at 30 months. At either 18 months or 30 months, only 3 percent of infants had positive results on all three screens. The investigators also found that all of the infants who screened positive for ASD on all three screening tests at 30 months were later diagnosed with ASD.

"While these findings have important implications, further work is needed," Stephens said in a statement. "To determine which of these infants actually have ASD, a study that includes a formal diagnostic assessment on all children with a failed screen is needed."

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