June 14, 2011

Routine Screening for Autism Not Needed

(Ivanhoe Newswire) "“ Proposals recommending routine screening of all children for autismg got shot down by researchers from McMaster University.

There is not enough sound evidence to support the implementation of a routine population-based screening program for autism," researchers were quoted as saying.

Researchers say there are no good screening tools or effective treatments, and there isn't evidence yet that routine screening does more good than harm.

In contrast to the McMaster findings, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that screening for autism be incorporated into routine practice regardless of whether a concern has been raised by the parents.

McMaster researchers conducted a literature search to assess the effectiveness of community screening programs for autism.

"None of the autism screening tests currently available has been shown to be able to fulfill the properties of accuracy, namely high sensitivity, high specificity, and high predictive value (proportion of patients with positive test results who are diagnosed correctly) in a population-wide screening program," researchers said.

"There is no solid evidence on which to base the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics," Dr. Jan Willem Gorter, a researcher in McMaster's Can Child Centre for Childhood Disability Research and associate professor of pediatrics, was quoted as saying.
"None of the autism screening tests for the general population that we have today have proven accuracy," said Dr. Gorter.

Dr. Gorter said the study is a "call to action."

The researchers believe that the community screening of all preschoolers is premature. However, they recommend careful surveillance and assessment of all preschoolers who show signs of language, social and cognitive problems.

SOURCE: Pediatrics, published online June 13, 2011