Children should be screened for autism spectrum disorder at ages 18 and 24 months with continued developmental monitoring despite recent draft recommendations made by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, according to a position statement released by the AAP.
“The draft recommendation statement on autism screening released Aug. 3 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force runs counter to AAP guidelines,” AAP President Sandra G. Hassink, MD, FAAP, said in a press release. “The AAP remains committed to its recommendation for the timely screening and identification of children who would benefit from early intervention and treatment.”
The USPSTF’s draft recommendations state that, “the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for ASD in children for whom no concerns of ASD have been raised by their parents or clinical provider.”
This recommendation was based on a lack of evidence to support the position that current screening methods can adequately detect ASD in children aged 18 to 30 months. The USPSTF did note, however, a lack of harms other than financial and stress burdens associated with screenings and behavioral interventions in this population.
The AAP statement said that 1 in 68 children in the U.S. is affected by ASD. The AAP recommendation stresses that early detection is crucial to early implementation and effectiveness of intervention therapies for children with ASD.
“Parents who have concerns about their child’s development, especially about the way their child plays, learns, speaks, acts or moves, should talk with their child’s doctor,” Hassink said in the release. “A child who has developmental delays can begin therapy before a formal diagnosis has been made.”
U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Draft Recommendation Statement. Austism Spectrum Disorder in Young Children: Screening. http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement15/autism-spectrum-disorder-in-young-children-screening.