New Health Screening Detects Signs of Autism in Babies

Published on: Modified on:

Can a simple questionnaire pick up signs of autism in your baby?

A 5-minute screening test could warn you if your baby has any of the signs of autism or autism spectrum disorder, from as early as 12 months of age, which, on the heels of Autism Awareness Month, is good news for parents everywhere.

Scientific study buys parents and children more time to get treatment


Recently, researchers tested a questionnaire designed to diagnose autism on 10,500 children in San Diego, California.

  • The study was led by Dr. Karen Pierce, neuroscientist at the University of San Diego School of Medicine, and involved 137 pediatricians in the San Diego area.
  • Parents who brought their children in for their 12-month checkups were asked to fill out a 24-part survey which inquired about their children’s emotional health, communicational abilities and eye contact.
  • Out of the 10,500 toddlers tested, 32 were diagnosed with autism or autism spectrum disorder.
  • Also, 100 children were diagnosed with language-related disorders or delays.
  • Children whose parents participated in this study were able to begin treatment as early as 19 months of age.
  • According to the Journal of Pediatrics, most children don’t begin to show noticeable signs of autism such as eye contact avoidance until the age of 2 or 3. Another study suggests that autistic children don’t usually get diagnosed before the age of 5 or 6.  This simple checklist means that autistic children will be able to be diagnosed and start receiving therapy for autism as many as 1 to 5 years earlier.

Also read: Support for Parents of Autistic Children

What kinds of questions were used to detect autism?

In this study, parents of toddlers were asked to answer questions such as:

  • Do you know when your child is happy and when your child is upset?
  • Does your child do things just to get you to laugh?
  • Does your child wave to greet people?
  • When you call your child’s name, does he/she respond by looking or turning toward you?
  • Does your child smile or laugh while looking at you?

What symptoms of autism were included in this test?

The checklist given to parents of 1-year-olds was designed to detect autism, autism spectrum disorder, delays in communication and other developmental issues. Symptoms of autism include:

  • difficulty communicating, both verbally and nonverbally
  • low attention span
  • obsessive compulsive behavior, such as fixations on certain objects, repeating words or phrases, body rocking and hand flapping
  • difficulty being in a group or social gathering
  • avoidance of eye contact
  • difficulty bathing, grooming, feeding and dressing oneself

How effective was the survey at diagnosing autism?

According to Dr. Pierce, the survey was wrong only 1 out of 4 times- meaning it was 75% accurate at diagnosing children with autism, autism spectrum disorder or other language problems. Currently, approximately 1 out of every 110 children exhibit some of the symptoms of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

Autism Health Video

Treatments for autism

Many researchers and physicians confirm that vitamin B12 supplementation is an effective treatment for some of the symptoms of autism, including anxiety, depression and digestive disorders.  Numerous studies have indicated a high correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and autistic behaviors.

For more information about the benefits of vitamin B12 for treating autism, read: Autism, B12 and Your Child

Also read:

10 Great iPad Apps for Autistic Children

Top 10 Children’s Books Which Raise Autism Awareness

Equine Therapy and Autism: They’re Not Just Horsing Around


US News, WebMD, Businessweek, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, Livestrong