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Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2014 Feb 11;10:277-82. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S57057. eCollection 2014.

Screening for autism in preterm children with extremely low and very low birth weight.

Author information

1
Department of Child Psychiatry, Charles University Second Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Motol, Prague, Czech Republic.
2
Department of Pediatrics, Charles University Second Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital Motol, Prague, Czech Republic.
3
Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Charles University First Faculty of Medicine and General University Hospital, Prague, Czech Republic.
4
Department of Pediatrics, Charles University Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital, Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic.
5
Institute of Psychology, Academy of Sciences, Brno, Czech Republic.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies of children with very low birth weight (VLBW, 1,000-1,500 g) and extremely low birth weight (ELBW, less than 1,000 g) indicate that this population seems to be at increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

METHODS:

Parents of 101 VLBW and ELBW children (age 2 years, corrected for prematurity) agreed to participate in the study and signed informed consents; however, parents of only 75 children (44 boys, 31 girls) completed the screening questionnaires. The screening battery included the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile Infant-Toddler Checklist (CSBS-DP-ITC), and the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile (ITSP). Children with disabilities were excluded. All children who screened positive on any of the screening tools were subsequently invited for a detailed assessment.

RESULTS:

Thirty-two children (42.7%) screened positive on at least one of the screening questionnaires. The screening tool with the most positive results was the CSBS-DP-ITC (26 positive screens), followed by the M-CHAT (19 positive screens) and the ITSP (11 positive screens). Of the 32 children who tested positive, 19 participated in the detailed follow-up assessment. A diagnosis of ASD was confirmed in eight of the 19 children. ASD prevalence, calculated from those 19 children and those with negative screening results (43 children), yielded a prevalence of 12.9% in the sample. The difference in frequency of positive screens between the tests was significant (P=0.011). In pair comparisons, ITSP was found to be significantly less positive than CSBS-DP-ITC (P=0.032). No significant differences were found between the M-CHAT and CSBS-DP-ITC or between the M-CHAT and ITSP.

CONCLUSION:

The results strongly support the hypothesis of an increased prevalence of autism in children with a birth weight less than 1,500 g.

KEYWORDS:

Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule; autism spectrum disorder; preterm children; prevalence; screening

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