Early autism could be discovered by asking parents of one year olds a number of simple questions during routine well-baby check-ups, a study has claimed.
It is usually a few years later that signs of the condition are noticed.
But US researchers have found that asking questions relating to a child’s use of sounds, words, gestures and eye contact can indicate whether a more extensive examination is required.
Some 10,479 infants aged one were involved in the study, with 184 of these failing the initial screening.
Those children were then referred to a team at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, for further evaluation.
So far, 32 infants have been given an initial or final diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, while different conditions connected with delays in development have been linked to another 101 children.
The authors have claimed that the figures are accurate for the size of the group tested, suggesting that conducting screenings could be successful.
Lead researcher Karen Pierce said: “Given lack of universal screening of infants for such disorders at 12 months, this programme could be adopted by any paediatric office, at virtually no cost, to aid in the identification of children with developmental delays.
“Importantly, parents will be able to get help for their children at a much earlier age than before.”
- The findings have been published in the Journal of Pediatrics.