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

Authors Dudova I, Kasparova M, Markova D, Zemankova J, Beranova S, Urbanek T, Hrdlicka M

Received 5 November 2013

Accepted for publication 26 November 2013

Published 11 February 2014 Volume 2014:10 Pages 277—282

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S57057

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Iva Dudova,1 Martina Kasparova,2 Daniela Markova,3 Jana Zemankova,4 Stepanka Beranova,1 Tomas Urbanek,5 Michal Hrdlicka1

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

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 spectrum disorder, preterm children, screening, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule, prevalence

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