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Brain Dev. 2006 Sep;28(8):495-9. Epub 2006 Apr 17.

Radiological findings in autistic and developmentally delayed children.

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  • 1Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University Medical Center Utrecht, The Netherlands.



The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of brain abnormalities in a group of young children with developmental disorders, specifically including children that came to the attention of a child psychiatrist before the age of 3 years.


Forty-five children participated in an MR study (mean age 43 months, SD=12, four females). The study design was approved by the local Medical Ethical Review Board. All parents gave written informed consent. Scans were independently assessed by two board-certified radiologists for malformations of gray and white matter.


Cohen's kappa for the consensus between the two raters was 0.79. In 22 children (49%) abnormalities were reported. Four patients (8.5%) had an arachnoid cyst. One female was diagnosed with a Chiari I malformation. Three children show enlarged Virchow-Robin spaces, an increased occurrence when compared to the normal population.


A high rate of intracranial abnormalities was found in this study. Radiological findings do not contribute to the diagnosis of developmental disorders. However, young children with developmental disorders may not be able to express discomfort associated with brain abnormalities, such as a Chiari I malformation. Given the high prevalence of abnormalities in this sample neuroimaging may be a useful tool in clinically assessing children with developmental disorders.

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