Early Diagnoses of Autism Increasing in Massachusetts

Odds of having an early diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder linked to maternal age

MONDAY, May 16 (HealthDay News) -- Early diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are increasing in Massachusetts, especially among boys, according to a study published online May 16 in Pediatrics.

Susan E. Manning, M.D., M.P.H., of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined trends in the early diagnoses of ASD, and identified associated characteristics. Data were collected from Massachusetts birth certificates and early-intervention programs for 3,013 infants born between 2001 and 2005, who had received autism-related services before the age of 36 months. Trends in early ASDs were examined, and the distribution of characteristics for children with and without these disorders was compared.

The investigators found an increase in ASDs, from 56 per 10,000 infants in the 2001 birth cohort to 93 per 10,000 in the 2005 birth cohort. The odds of having an early ASD diagnosis were lower in infants of mothers who were younger than 24 years, whose primary language was not English, or who were foreign-born. The odds of having an early ASD diagnosis were increased for infants whose mothers were older than age 30. Boys had 4.5 times higher odds for an early ASD diagnosis compared to girls.

"Early diagnoses of ASDs are increasing in Massachusetts, particularly among boys, reflecting national trends. Our analysis shows that linkage of early intervention program data and population-based vital statistics data is useful for identifying trends and disparities in early ASD diagnoses," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed a financial relationship with i3 Innovus, a subsidiary of the United Health Group.

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