A five-minute screening test could help detect autism in babies when they are just 12-months-old, US researchers said.
Autism begins in childhood and persist throughout adulthood, but often isn't picked up until youngsters are older.
'The benefit of this study is children get into treatment much earlier than they would otherwise,' said study author Karen Pierce of the University of California, San Diego. 'There is extensive evidence that early therapy can have a positive impact on the developing brain.'
For the study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, Professor Pierce and colleagues put together a network of 137 pediatricians, who systematically started screening all babies at their one-year check up.
As part of the screening program, parents answered a survey, rating their babies on questions such as 'When your child plays with toys, does he/she look at you to see if you are watching?' or 'Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?'
Any baby who failed the screening was referred to university's autism centre for more testing. These children were re-tested every six months until age 3, when they were likely to show signs of autism.
Dr Lisa Gilotty from the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study, said: 'Those kids were getting treatment who otherwise may not have been seen for treatment until age 3 or later.'
Dr Chrystal de Freitas, a pediatrician who participated in the study, said parents who got the screening paid more attention to their child's development, and it helped prepare some for potentially bad news.
Professor Pierce said surveys of the doctors before the program showed that most had not been screening infants in any systematic way for autism. But after the study, 96 per cent said they have continued using the screening tool.
Dr Gilotty said the screening test still needs to be confirmed through other studies, but it proves that it is possible to systematically screen babies for autism in a way that does not put too much of a burden on pediatricians.
2011-05-03 08:35 编辑：kuaileyingyu