Screening children for autism has long been a lightning rod for debate. A recent decision by the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) will likely add more fuel to that fire.
A USPSTF panel released a draft recommendation and report that suggests there is not enough evidence to support screening all young children for autism – despite guidelines from experts other medical groups that urge such screening.
“That’s why some experts disagree with the panel’s evaluation. The American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, recommends universal autism screening. And Alycia Halladay, chief science officer at the Autism Science Foundation, is disappointed with the proposed recommendation. She says there are tools that have been shown to be effective in diagnosing autism, even in children who haven’t yet shown outward signs.”
“You identify the kids early; you get them to treatment early; and the outcome is better,” Dr. Susan E. Levy of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and American Academy of Pediatrics autism subcommittee said in a Parenting.com story.
The Task Force explained its position like this: “We are not telling doctors to stop screening, but we also aren’t telling them they should all be screening,” Dr. David Grossman, vice chair of the task force and a pediatrician said. “What this is more than anything else is a call for research. We’re not saying it’s the wrong thing. We’re just saying we’re not sure,”
An estimated 1 in 68 children in the U.S. has autism. Many experts say the increase is at least partly due to greater awareness. We would love to hear what you think about the screening and the new USPSTF recommendation.