|Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News|Kids With Autism May Perceive Movement More QuicklyExtreme Birth Weights Tied to Autism in Swedish StudyKelly the Robot Helps Kids Tackle AutismGirls With Autism May Need Different Treatments Than BoysDrug Shows Some Benefit for Kids With AutismStudy Debunks Lyme Disease-Autism LinkNewborn's Placenta May Predict Autism Risk, Study SuggestsPrenatal Use of Common Epilepsy Drug Tied to Higher Autism RiskThe 'Learning Curve' of Living With Asperger'sGuideline Changes Have Asperger's Community on EdgeAge of Autism Diagnosis May Depend on Symptoms: StudyKids With Autism May Be Less Likely to Imitate 'Silly' BehaviorAnother Study Sees No Vaccine-Autism LinkSuicidal Thoughts More Common in Kids With Autism: StudyWomen Abused in Childhood at Higher Odds of Having Child With Autism: StudyHaving Older Grandfather May Raise Child's Autism Risk: StudyOne in 50 School-Aged Children in U.S. Has Autism: CDCBrain Circuitry Yields Clue to Autism, Researchers SayMost Kids With Autism Overcome Language Delays, Study FindsBrain Connections Differ in Children With AutismCan Therapy Dogs Help Kids With Autism?Researchers Detect an Anti-Autism Advantage in FemalesFolic Acid in Pregnancy May Lower Autism RiskDon't Overlook Eating Issues Tied to Autism, Study WarnsInfants' Inattentiveness Might Signal Later Autism, Study SaysFor Some Children, Autism Symptoms May Fade With AgeResearchers Link 25 New Gene Variants to AutismBullying Harms Kids With Autism, Parents SayExposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution Linked to AutismGenes Linked to Autism Seem to Have Strong Tendency to MutateAsperger's, Autism Not Linked to Violence: ExpertsAdults With Autism Report Worse Health Care ExperiencesGene Study Uncovers More Autism CluesCommon Heart Drug Might Dampen Some Autism SymptomsKids With Autism Common Users of ERs, Study SaysBrain Differences Observed in Young Men With AutismStudy Sees Possible Link Between Air Pollution and Autism RiskChild Prodigies Show Links with AutismStudy Looks at Autism and Possible Pregnancy Risk FactorsPlay-Focused Program Might Help Kids With AutismAutism Tough to Spot Before 6 Months of Age, Study SuggestsKids With Autism Find It Hard to Describe Poor Behavior, Study FindsCould Stem Cells Treat Autism? Newly Approved Study May TellNearly Half of Children With Autism Wander From Safety: SurveyNew Autism Criteria Will Have Minor Impact: StudyMany Children With Autism Have Other Health Problems, Study SaysResearch Lacking on Drugs for Older Children With Autism, Study FindsDrug Shows Promise Against Fragile X Syndrome, Possibly AutismAlmost Half of U.S. Kids With Autism Have Been BulliedLittle Evidence on Value of Treatments for Autism: ReportQuestions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Autism Tough to Spot Before 6 Months of Age, Study Suggests
by By Maureen Salamon
Updated: Oct 30th 2012
TUESDAY, Oct. 30 (HealthDay News) -- The development of 6-month-old babies who are diagnosed with autism in toddlerhood is very similar to that of children without autism, a new study suggests.
"We always thought that if a child had autism, we would be able to tell during infancy . . . but we were wrong," said study author Rebecca Landa, director of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders at Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore. "At 6 months of age, babies who end up with autism by age 3 are scoring similarly on tests to children who didn't have autism."
The study also sheds doubt on the notion that cases of autism that are spotted early are necessarily more severe. The researchers report that youngsters with early-identified autism (spotted at or before 14 months of age) did initially perform less well than a group whose autism was identified later. However, by the time children from both of these groups reached 3 years of age the gap narrowed so that they showed very similar levels of function.
The study is published Oct. 30 in the journal Child Development.
Affecting about one in 88 American children, conditions on the autism spectrum are developmental disorders that cause difficulties in social skills, language and communication. They can range from mild to severe, and are typically identified by the age of 3.
In the new study, researchers analyzed 235 children with and without an older sibling with autism (since genetics influence risk for the disorder), testing them six times between 6 months and 36 months of age.
Among the skills tested were fine motor skills, speaking skills, understanding of spoken language and how often the children shared emotions and initiated communications with others.
Children with autism typically developed noticeable symptoms either around their first birthday or later in toddlerhood but still prior to their third birthday. The study authors said that this is the largest longitudinal study to date that compares children with early/later diagnoses of autism against children without autism.
"Autism has historically not been recognized in infancy, under 12 months, and becomes more evident in the second or third year," explained Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park. "The piece [of the study] that's surprising is that the typical presumption is that kids who present earlier are likely to have a more severe form of autism -- but that's not what they found."
Landa, who has done extensive research on autism, said that "it's never too early" for pediatricians and parents to be alert to potential signs of autism in infants, which don't always center on language and social delays. For example, she said, some babies who go on to develop autism exhibit poor "postural control" at age 4 months and cannot control their neck muscles when pulled up to a sitting position.
"We really should be screening for general developmental delays at the first birthday," Landa said. "We shouldn't lock ourselves into screening for autism specifically . . . what we want to do now is help parents and pediatricians start looking for some of these more qualitative markers."
"We need to heighten parents' awareness of the fact that, when they start to see their child might not be showing steady gains in development, to have someone keep an eye out because there are so many wonderful things we can do while the brain is young and malleable," she added.
There's more on diagnosing an autism spectrum disorder at Autism Speaks.
This article: Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.