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Table 8.3Percentage of children/young people with autism who had a condition (potentially or actually) identified or confirmed by the biomedical investigation

Biomedical investigationQuality assessmentSummary of findings
Studies (N)% of participants testedDesignLimitationsInconsistencyIndirectnessQuality% of total participants in studies with abnormal test results (95% CI)
EEG
Performed routinely158;1992 (178)100%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low4 (2, 26)
Performed based on clinical judgementNo studies were identified.
Performed for research purposes164;191;200;207;2105 (1410)95.8%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low24 (10, 41)
MRI
Performed routinelyNo studies were identified.
Performed based on clinical judgement199;2002 (196)21.8%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0 (0, 1)
Performed for research purposes2121 (77)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0
CT/CAT/PET/SPECT
Performed routinelyNo studies were identified for this analysis
Performed based on clinical judgement1991 (132)27.3%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0
Performed for research purposes202No studies were identified.
Metabolic tests
Performed routinely158;2122 (123)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0 (0, 2)
Performed based on clinical judgement1991 (132)40.2%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0
Performed for research purposesNo studies were identified.
Blood tests
Performed routinely1581 (46)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0
Performed based on clinical judgementNo studies were identified.
Performed for research purposes2161 (43)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low21
Urine tests
Performed routinely1531 (187)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low0
Performed based on clinical judgementNo studies were identified.
Performed for research purposesNo studies were identified.
Genetic tests
Performed routinely153.1 (187)100.0%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low9
Performed based on clinical judgement199;2202 (1030)32.4%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low3 (2, 4)
Performed for research purposes219;2212 (816)97.2%Uncon obsNot usedNot usedNot usedVery low4 (0, 21)

EEG: electroencephalography (EEG); MRI: magnetic resonance imaging; CT: Computed tomography; CAT: computed axial tomography; PET: positron emission tomography; SPECT: single photon emission computed tomography

CI: confidence interval; Uncon obs: Uncontrolled observational (see Methods, Section 2.6.2 for detail)

From: 8, Medical investigations

Cover of Autism
Autism: Recognition, Referral and Diagnosis of Children and Young People on the Autism Spectrum.
NICE Clinical Guidelines, No. 128.
National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health (UK).
London: RCOG Press; 2011 Sep.
Copyright © 2011, National Collaborating Centre for Women’s and Children’s Health.

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