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J Pediatr. 2015 Feb;166(2):269-75.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.10.053. Epub 2014 Dec 2.

Infants born late/moderately preterm are at increased risk for a positive autism screen at 2 years of age.

Author information

  • 1Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom; School of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom.
  • 2Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom.
  • 3Department of Academic Neonatology, Institute for Women's Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
  • 4Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, Leicester, United Kingdom. Electronic address: sjj19@le.ac.uk.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To assess the prevalence of positive screens using the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) questionnaire and follow-up interview in late and moderately preterm (LMPT; 32-36 weeks) infants and term-born controls.

STUDY DESIGN:

Population-based prospective cohort study of 1130 LMPT and 1255 term-born infants. Parents completed the M-CHAT questionnaire at 2-years corrected age. Parents of infants with positive questionnaire screens were followed up with a telephone interview to clarify failed items. The M-CHAT questionnaire was re-scored, and infants were classified as true or false positives. Neurosensory, cognitive, and behavioral outcomes were assessed using parent report.

RESULTS:

Parents of 634 (57%) LMPT and 761 (62%) term-born infants completed the M-CHAT questionnaire. LMPT infants had significantly higher risk of a positive questionnaire screen compared with controls (14.5% vs 9.2%; relative risk [RR] 1.58; 95% CI 1.18, 2.11). After follow-up, significantly more LMPT infants than controls had a true positive screen (2.4% vs 0.5%; RR 4.52; 1.51, 13.56). This remained significant after excluding infants with neurosensory impairments (2.0% vs 0.5%; RR 3.67; 1.19, 11.3).

CONCLUSIONS:

LMPT infants are at significantly increased risk for positive autistic screen. An M-CHAT follow-up interview is essential as screening for autism spectrum disorders is especially confounded in preterm populations. Infants with false positive screens are at risk for cognitive and behavioral problems.

PMID:
25477165
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpeds.2014.10.053
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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