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Autism. 2008 Sep;12(5):537-56. doi: 10.1177/1362361308094502.

Screening for autism spectrum disorders in primary care settings.

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Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30302-5010, USA.


The need for autism-specific screening during pediatric well-child visits has been established. However, additional support for specific screening instruments is needed. The current study used the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) and the M-CHAT Follow-Up Interview to screen 4797 children during toddler checkups. Of the 4797 cases, 466 screened positive on the M-CHAT; of the 362 who completed the follow-up interview, 61 continued to show risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). A total of 41 children have been evaluated; 21 children have been diagnosed with ASD, 17 were classified with non-ASD delays, and three were typically developing. The PPV of M-CHAT plus interview was .57. It is notable that only four of the 21 cases of ASD were flagged by their pediatrician. These findings suggest that the M-CHAT is effective in identifying ASD in primary care settings. Future research will follow this sample longitudinally.

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