Neurodevelopmental and psychiatric conditions may cause a delay in autism spectrum diagnosis because of similar symptoms, according to results of a study published online.
Researchers from the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health used cross-sectional data from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health for 1,366 children whose parents reported current autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or past ASD diagnosis but were not currently considered to have ASD. Patients were divided into three developmental stages: young children aged 3 to 5 years; children aged 6 to 11 years; and adolescents aged 12 to 17 years.
The researchers said co-occurring conditions of concern included attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, developmental delays, speech problems, hearing problems, anxiety, depression, behavioral or conduct problems, and seizures/epilepsy.
“The presence of co-occurring psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions are associated with a change in ASD diagnosis,” Close and colleagues said. However, questions remain on whether changes in diagnosis of an ASD are caused by definite etiologic differences or shifts in diagnostic determination.
“Future research needs to focus on changes of ASD diagnoses in the context of co-occurring conditions rather than solely within the continuum of the autism spectrum,” the investigators said.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.