Widespread Screening For Autism

Despite the steady climb of autism rates in the U.S., there is not enough evidence to recommend all infants be screened for autism. That comes from a recent statement by the  U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and will likely fan the long-standing controversy around screening for autism.

The task force recommendation contradicts the beliefs of many medical experts who think early screening is critical to early detection. This statement is from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) website:

“The AAP stands behind its recommendation that all children be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance.” 

“Research shows that early intervention can considerably improve children’s long-term development and social behaviors.”

In a U.S. News & World Report story, the advocacy group “Autism Speaks” expressed disappointment USPSTF’s recommendation with the group’s senior vice president of medical research, Dr. Paul Wang, saying, “Autism starts very early in brain development and its symptoms can be detected by age 2.We have a broad consensus, based on research, that early intervention for autism results in better outcomes.”

A report on NPR.org points out that the task force is not recommending against screening toddlers, but rather does not believe there is sufficient “evidence to show that screening all children delivers measurable benefits.”

What do you think? Should all children be screened or do you believe more research needs to be done on early childhood screening for autism? A tough issue to be sure, but tackling the tough issues is necessary if we truly want to find a way to one day make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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