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Most children diagnosed with autism at age 2 years also diagnosed with the condition at age 9 years

About three-fourths of children who are diagnosed with autism at age 2 years appear to have the condition at age 9 years, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Autism is a developmental condition characterized by difficulties with social interactions and communication and a tendency toward restricted and repetitive behaviors, according to background information in the article. Parents usually identify problems in their autistic children during the first year of life, but most diagnoses are not usually made until children are older. The concept of autism has recently expanded to include milder conditions known as autism spectrum disorders; these include Asperger's syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

Catherine Lord, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues studied 192 children who had been referred to autism clinics or centers in North Carolina and Chicago and 22 control children who were developmentally delayed but not referred for or diagnosed with autism. The children were assessed at ages 2, 5 and 9 years and diagnosed using three measures: a parent interview; an observational scale that clinicians used to rate the children's social and communication behaviors; and the judgment of the clinicians who examined the children and made initial diagnoses. Each child received a best-estimate diagnosis, made by two additional psychologists or psychiatrists who reviewed all three of these measures and discussed the diagnosis until they reached a consensus.

Of the 172 children who were examined at age 9 years, 58 percent had a best-estimate diagnosis of autism, an increase from the 49 percent diagnosed at age 2 years. Overall, 67 percent of the best-estimate diagnoses were the same at age 2 years and age 9 years. More specifically, 76 percent of those diagnosed with autism at age 2 received the same diagnosis at ag
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Contact: Joe Serwach
734-647-1844
JAMA and Archives Journals
5-Jun-2006


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