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 Baby 'name test' may spot autism

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PostSubject: Baby 'name test' may spot autism   Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:42 pm

Baby 'name test' may spot autism




The name test indicates when more assessments may be needed

Routinely checking to see if babies can respond to their name at the
age of one could help detect autism earlier than other tests, US
experts believe.

The disorder is usually not diagnosed until a child is three or four, as the symptoms are variable.



However, parents of autistic children often say they have noticed early tell-tale behaviour.



The 'name test' described in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine appeared to aid earlier diagnosis.



Simple screen



The researchers studied two groups of infants - a healthy control group
and a group of children deemed to be at higher than normal risk of
autism because they all had older siblings with the condition.



At 12 months, all of the 46 infants in control group passed the name
test, responding on the first or second call of their own name, while
only 86% of the 101 'at risk' infants passed. The University of
California Davis, Sacramento, team followed 46 of the 'at risk' infants
and 25 of the controls up to their second birthday.



Three-quarters of the 'at risk' children who had failed the name test
were found to have developmental problems at the age of two.



Of the children who were later diagnosed with autism, half had failed
the name test at one year, and of those who were identified as having
any type of developmental delay, 39% had failed it.



Aparna Nadig and colleagues had tried the name test on the children
when they were only six months old, but found this was too young an age
to get any meaningful result.



Routine check



They stressed that if the name test were to be used routinely, it
should not be relied on solely to diagnose autism - it merely indicates
that a child may need more assessments.



Equally, a child who fails the test will not necessarily have autism.



However, one who fails repeatedly and consistently has a high
likelihood of some type of developmental abnormality and should be
referred for further checks and possibly early intervention, they said.




Judith Gould of the National Autistic Society said there was good evidence that early intervention could help.



But she also cautioned: "Just because a baby does not respond to their
name does not necessarily mean that he or she has autism.



"The diagnostic assessments for autism are thorough and wide-ranging,
taking into account a variety of other factors such as eye contact,
pointing and showing.



"If parents are concerned about their child's development, they should
call the NAS helpline on 0845 070 4004 or seek the opinion of a medical
professional.
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