Black and Hispanic Children With Autism More Likely to Go Undiagnosed
One fourth of children with autism may go undiagnosed, according to a new study from Rutgers University. The study, published last month in the journal Autism Research, also found that black and Hispanic children with autism are more likely to go undiagnosed.
Walter Zahorodny, the study’s co-author, believes the disparity may stem from cultural or communication barriers between parents and physicians, or anxiety about the complicated diagnostic process.
“Many parents whose children are diagnosed later often attribute their first concern to a behavioral or medical issue rather than a developmental problem,” Zahorodny said, according to a report by Inquirer.com.
Zahorodny and his colleagues researched medical records of children in 11 states that are part of the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network. Out of 266,000 eight-year-olds whose records were analyzed, 4,550 met the diagnostic criteria for autism, and 1,135 of those children had not been diagnosed. Black and Hispanic children were also more likely to be in the undiagnosed group.
1 in 59 children in the United States are estimated to be on the autism spectrum, according to the Centers for Disease Control. New Jersey has the highest autism rate of any U.S. state, with 1 in 34 children diagnosed with autism.
“I have no problem advocating that every child be screened at 18 and 24 months,” Zahorodny was quoted as saying by Inquirer. “In fact, I’m a person who would be most likely to say not only at 18 and 24 months but given what we see about late detection, I would do screening at 30 or 36 months and again at 40 or 48 months because there are still children who are getting to school age without evaluation.”