MONDAY, May 21, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Children who pass the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) screening at 18 months but later receive diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit delays in social, communication, and motor skills, according to a study published online May 21 in Pediatrics.

Roald A. Øien, from the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, and colleagues compared sex-stratified developmental and temperamental profiles at 18 months in children screening negative for ASD on the M-CHAT but later receiving a diagnosis of ASD versus those without a later ASD diagnosis (false-negative group versus true-negative group). Data were included from 68,197 screen-negative cases from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study.

The researchers found that, compared with the true-negative group, children in the false-negative group exhibited delays in social, communication, and motor skills; these differences were more pronounced in girls. Boys in the false-negative group were rated as more shy than their true-negative counterparts, while girls were rated less shy in the false-negative group than their counterparts in the true-negative group.

“With these findings, we underscore the need to enhance the understanding of early markers of ASD in boys and girls, as well as factors affecting parental report on early delays and abnormalities, to improve the sensitivity of screening instruments,” the authors write.

One author disclosed holding patents for autism-associated biomarkers.

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