CHICAGO (Reuters) - All U.S. children should be formally screened for autism twice by the age of 2, the nation's top pediatrician group recommended on Monday.
The new guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics focus on early intervention, which can improve a child's chances for effective treatment.
"If you recognize it earlier, you get them into treatment earlier," said Dr. Scott Myers, a pediatrician who specializes in neurodevelopment and who helped write two clinical reports designed to help pediatricians identify and manage autism.
"Kids who start (treatment) earlier do better in the long run," Myers said in a telephone interview.
The guidelines for the first time call for universal screening of babies at the regular 18- and 24-month check-ups, regardless of whether there are warning signs. They will be published in the journal Pediatrics and on the group's Web site at http://www.aap.org
My wife works with the First Signs project. This initiative will probably become a nursing responsibility.