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More children in Sweden diagnosed with autism

Tuesday, 20 March 2012
With new methods, staff at the children healthcare centres in Sweden has been able to carry out early detection of children with autism, research carried out at Sahlgrenska Academy show.

In 2000, 0.16 per cent of all two year olds in Gothenburg were diagnosed with some form of autistic disorder. In 2010 this had risen to 0.8 percent. The increase is partly due to increased knowledge and awareness of the signs of autistic disorder, which means that more cases are detected.

A thesis made by Gudrun Nygren demonstrates how a combination of two different methods can be used for early detection of disorders in the screening of all 2.5 - year-olds in connection with the obligatory visit to the child healthcare center (BVC).

“By combining methods, we have more sensitive and better tools for early detection of various autistic disorders,” says Gudrun Nygren.
In one method the use of questionnaires and interviews with parents was carried out in order to capture symptoms.
They may respond to 23 yes or no questions. In the other child health clinic staffs are trained in observing the child's ability to split attention.

Surveys in Malmö last year also show the importance of early diagnosis. The sooner the autistic disorders are detected the sooner a treatment is given.

The methods have since 2010 been tested on about 5,000 children in Gothenburg. It included autism screening into regular paediatric clinic program of health monitoring in Gothenburg.
By Team

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