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Study questions effectiveness of autism screen in toddlers

A widely used screen for autism identifies only one-third of children at 18 months who are later diagnosed with the disorder, reports a large Norwegian study published 18 February in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology1.

The 23-question Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT), typically filled out by parents during routine visits to a pediatrician, also incorrectly flagged about 7 percent of children who do not have the disorder.

The findings suggest that the M-CHAT is not useful for identifying autism in 18-month-old children.

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