Bottom Line: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is common in children and is, on average, generally detected and treated by about age 4. This study examined whether earlier diagnoses of ASD would remain stable and persist, potentially allowing for earlier treatment. Included in this study were 1,269 toddlers from the general population with and without ASD who received their first diagnostic evaluation between the ages of 12 and 36 months and had at least one subsequent evaluation. Researchers report the stability of an ASD diagnosis was weakest in children ages 12 to 13 months but the analyses suggest ASD may be reliably diagnosed in children beginning as young as 14 months. Overall, of the 400 toddlers initially designated as having ASD, 336 (84 percent) retained that diagnosis at their final diagnostic visit. Research is needed to test the usefulness of ASD treatment at an early age.
Authors: Karen Pierce, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, and coauthors
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