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Three Tests can divide Autism into Subgroups. (Readily Available).

SAN DIEGO -- With the use of three readily available tests, autism can be divided into two subgroups known as essential autism and complex autism, which have different outcomes and recurrence risks.

"Separating essential from complex autism should be the first diagnostic step, as it leads to better prognostication, counseling, and treatment," Dr. Judith Miles said at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

The three tests that she and her associates in the department of child health at the University of Missouri-Columbia used to separate essential from complex autism were:

* Presence of significant dysmorphology by physical exam.

* Measurement of head size.

* Determination of brain structure by MRI.

Between 1995. and 2001, 260 patients with a mean age of 9 years who met strict diagnostic criteria for infantile autism or Asperger's syndrome underwent a clinical exam and head measurement; 62% had an MRI. The investigators found that 15% were dysmorphic, 5% were microcephalic, and 27% of the patients studied had an abnormal MRI.

Individually, each feature predicted a poorer outcome. Together, they defined a subgroup termed complex autism--comprising 30% of the study population with significantly lower IQ scores, more seizures, more epileptiform EEGs, and a lower sibling recurrence risk, compared with the other children in the study.

Dr. Miles and her associates classified patients as having essential autism if they were nondysmorphic, not microcephalic, and had a normal MRI.
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Author:Brunk, Doug
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2001
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