A new study Recurrence Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Baby Siblings Research Consortium Study has found that younger siblings of children with Autism face a greater risk of also suffering from the disorder.

The study followed a group of infants until they reached 36 months whose older siblings suffered from autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

The researchers found that a total of 650 infants aged 18 months or younger who had older siblings with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). They then assessed the younger siblings at age 36 months. Nearly 19% were diagnosed with ASD. Being a male infant and having more than one sibling with ASD were the strongest predictors of autism.

The study concluded that younger siblings of children with autism had higher rates of the disorder than previously suspected.

The authors said: “Given the higher-than-expected recurrence rates, particularly for male infants and multiplex families, it is critical that primary care professionals closely monitor the development of infants who have older siblings with ASD, screening them routinely at well-child visits using a tool appropriate for infants.”

A positive screening should be immediately followed by referral for intervention, rather than taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.
Source: Pediatrics online