New Checklist May Help Diagnose Autism in Babies

Doctor Screening BabyBy answering 24 questions, parents and pediatricians now have a better way of determining if a baby is showing symptoms and signs of autism by age 1. 

The Infant-Toddler Checklist was featured as part of a study just published in the Journal of Pediatrics,  ”Detecting, Studying, and Treating Autism Early: The One-Year Well-Baby Check-Up Approach.”  The checklist assesses babies based on emotion and eye gaze, communication, gestures, sounds, words, understanding, and object use.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego lead the study and created the checklist for pediatricians in the San Diego area to use during babies’ 1-year well-visit checkups.  137 pediatricians participated in the study and used the checklist to screen 10,479 babies. 184 infants who failed the screening were then further evaluated every 6 months until age 3.  The checklist was able to diagnose 75% of the infants with specific problems — 32 infants with autism, 52 with language delays, and 9 with development delays. 

Until now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has encouraged autism screening for toddlers 18 to 24 months, though most kids aren’t diagnosed until they’re older. According to ABCNews.com, Geraldine Dawson of Autism Speaks (which co-funded the research) said, “This study is very encouraging in showing that a quick questionnaire given to parents during a well-baby visit has potential for identifying infants at risk for autism, as well as other developmental delays, at 12 months of age.”

Read more about the autism checklist:

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