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​​​​​AAP Statement on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Final Recommendations on Autism Screening (February 2016)

On February 16, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force affirmed its position that too little is known about the benefits and harms of universal autism screening to endorse the practice at this time. The Academy responded as follows: AAP Statement on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Final Recommendation Statement on Autism Screening by: Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP, president, American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) agrees with the call from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) for more research on the impact of screening and interventions for children who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), especially those in early childhood. This critically important research must be funded so we can learn how to better identify children with ASD early in life, and how to design the most effective interventions and treatments.  

"However, strong evidence already exists on the benefit of formal screening using standardized tools. This type of screening can identify children with significant developmental and behavioral challenges early, when they may benefit most from intervention, as well as those with other developmental difficulties. For screening to be effective, by design it must be applied to all children – not only those who exhibit overt symptoms, or those an individual clinician judges would benefit.  

"The AAP stands behind its recommendation that all children be screened for ASD at ages 18 and 24 months, along with regular developmental surveillance. This recommendation is encapsulated in the Bright Futures Guidelines for Health Supervision of Infants, Children, and Adolescents, which serves as the blueprint for well-child visits and coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Health insurance coverage of ASD screening should not be impacted by the USPSTF statement. 

"Research shows that early intervention can considerably improve children's long-term development and social behaviors. The AAP remains committed to providing its 64,000 member pediatricians with the tools and training they need to appropriately identify children with autism spectrum disorder and refer them to the treatment and services they need."

AAP Statement on U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Draft Recommendations on Autism Screening (August 2015)
Click here to read the AAP statement, in response to the draft recommendation report on autism screening released August 3, 2015 by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The report runs counter to current AAP guidelines.

Latest Autism Prevalence Estimates (March 27, 2014)
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children is 1 in 68. This new estimate roughly represents a 30% increase from previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children being identified with ASD.

The Academy responded to these new data with a News Release, "Autism Prevalence on the Rise: 1 in 68 Children Diagnosed With Autism Spectrum Disorder" and an AAP News article, "Autism prevalence now 1 in 68, varies by sex, race/ethnic group." 

The estimates reflect the findings of the report, "Prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorder among Children Aged 8 Years – Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, 11 Sites, United States, 2010," which was published on March 27, 2014 in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report

Researchers reviewed records from community sources (11 study sites in the US) that educate, diagnose, treat and/or provide services to children with developmental disabilities. The criteria used to diagnose ASDs and the methods used to collect data have not changed.  

The data continue to show that ASD is almost five times more common among boys than girls: 1 in 42 boys versus 1 in 189 girls. White children are more likely to be identified as having ASD than are black or Hispanic children.

The report also shows most children with ASD are diagnosed after age 4 (median of 52 months), even though ASD can be diagnosed as early as age 2. Additionally, the report showed the age of first concerns is less than 3 years of age, although diagnosis occurred much later.

The increase is most prominent in the group of children with IQs in the average range. It is notable that less than 1/3 of the entire group of children identified with ASD also had intellectual disabilities.  

This new data underscores the ongoing commitment of the American Academy of Pediatrics to early screening, identification, and referral for intervention for all children AND to the support of collaborative medical homes, in partnership with families, for children and youth with ASD.

Autism and DSM-5
Information, released by the AAP, discusses the new changes in the DSM-5. Specifically discussed are ADHD and autism. AAP News articles: "DSM-5 finally released: Look for changes in autism, ADHD criteria and "New DSM-5 includes changes to autism criteria." Click here for additional Academy resources.

AAP Autism Subcommittee
The Council on Children with Disabilities (COCWD) Autism Subcommittee (ASC) serves as the main point of contact for the Academy on ASD issues. The ASC is dedicated to helping the Academy ensure that accurate, comprehensive information about ASD is available and communicated to pediatricians, parents, and the public.

Click here for AAP autism resources for professionals, patients, and families​

Click here for AAP autism information for families​​