While there’s little evidence screening or treatment harms children, follow-up tests and interventions may place unnecessary burden on some families in terms of costs and time, according to the USPSTF recommendations published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But the recommendations, which are often used by government and private insurance providers to make coverage decisions, could eliminate funding for pediatricians to screen toddlers and preschoolers, Dr. Jeremy Veenstra-VanderWeele of Columbia University argued in an editorial in JAMA Psychiatry.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening all children for autism at 18 and 24 months, he wrote.
“This is what pediatricians are supposed to be doing, and should continue to do,” he added by email.From Autism Speaks:
Screening kids even when parents and doctors don’t see symptoms may be of benefit to children who might otherwise fall through the cracks, Geraldine Dawson of Duke University argued in an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics.
Autism starts very early in brain development, and its symptoms can be detected by age 2. We have a broad consensus, based on research, that early intervention for autism results in better outcomes.Yet to our great disappointment – and against expert counsel – the US Preventive Services Task Force has refused to recommend universal autism screening. Unfortunately, the USPSTF statement risks misleading families – and health insurers – on the value of autism screening for all children.
Autism Speaks – together with the Autism Science Foundation – continues to wholly endorse the Bright Futures guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which call for continuous developmental surveillance and for specific autism screening at 18 months, 24 months and whenever a parent or provider expresses concern.