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New study examines early diagnosis of autistic children

The failure to timely diagnose a multitude of diseases and illnesses can have long-lasting, adverse affects. A failure to diagnose may result in a patient’s worsened condition due to delayed treatment. In many cases, early diagnosis is key to an Oregon patient’s recovery and long-term prognosis.

A new study reveals the difficulties in early diagnosis of autism in babies prior to six months of age. The author of the study revealed the previous mistaken belief that if a child had autism, doctors would be able to tell in infancy. It showed that at six months old, babies who were diagnosed with autism by their third birthdays scored similarly on tests to children who did not have autism. The study also calls into question the belief that the earlier the diagnosis, the more severe the case.

The study tested children between six months and 36 months of age. Speaking skills, fine motor skills and how children shared emotions and communicated were all examined. The authors said this is the biggest longitudinal study to look at children with early/later diagnoses of autism and children without autism.

Autism affects around one in 88 children in the United States. The developmental disorders associated with autism cause difficulties with social skills, communication and language. Diagnosis of autism is generally made by the time a child reaches the age of three, with noticeable symptoms often appearing by a child’s first birthday.

It is hoped that the findings will heighten awareness of the disease in both parents and pediatricians. According to the study’s author, it’s never too early to watch for potential signs of autism in infants. For example, some babies that go on to develop autism have poor postural control at four months and cannot control their neck muscles in a sitting position. Early diagnosis of the disease is key, as there are many treatment options available. Treatment at such a young age may have innumerable benefits, especially while the brain is young and malleable.

Parents who believe that their child may have been affected by a failure to diagnosis autism or other conditions can contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney to learn more about their options.

Source: U.S. News, “Autism tough to spot before 6 months of age, study suggests,” Maureen Salamon, Oct. 30, 2012