A study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine confirms: new autism diagnoses are reliable. When performed by specialized professionals, they can detect the first symptoms when the child is only 14 months old.
This makes it possible to intervene earlier and confirms that autism arises in the prenatal age. According to several studies, autism develops in the first or second trimester of pregnancy. The first symptoms would also be visible within the first year of life, although often overlooked. Yet, an early diagnosis could improve treatments incisively. It would be enough to teach parents what the alarm bells are, so that they can turn to experts without wasting time.
The authors of this study tested this approach, especially to understand when it is possible to talk about a definitive diagnosis. They analyzed 1269 newborns, 441 with spectrum disorders and 828 no. The children had received the first diagnosis between 12 and 36 months of age, with different outcomes. Among 12-13 month olds there was a high rate of misdiagnosis, both in one sense and in another. Some apparently autistic children have turned out to be healthy and vice versa.
The diagnoses performed starting from the 14th month of life, on the other hand, turned out to be almost certain. This means that a professional can diagnose a case of autism in the first year of life or in any case soon after.