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Why Some Children May 'Grow Out' of Autism

But Kids With Several Physical, Psychological Problems May Be Less Likely to Improve Over Time, Study Shows
WebMD Health News

Jan. 23, 2012 -- Some kids with autism will no longer qualify for that diagnosis as they grow older.

Now a new study shows that whether or not a child “outgrows” their autism may be related to the number and severity of other physical and psychological problems that are part of their original diagnosis.

The study is published in the journal Pediatrics. It compared more than 1,300 children with a past or current diagnosis of autism. About one-third of the kids in the survey had once been diagnosed with autism but were no longer considered to have the condition.

“The main study objective is to try to see what co-existing conditions, if any, would help us to distinguish people who grow out of the autism diagnosis,” says researcher Li-Ching Lee, PhD, ScM, a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in Baltimore, Md.

In addition to autism, researchers asked parents if their children had ever been diagnosed with other problems, including attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a learning disability, developmental delay, speech or hearing problems, anxiety, depression, behavioral or conduct problems, and seizures or epilepsy.

Researchers adjusted their results to account for the influences of other things that are known to affect autism and development, including race and gender, the family’s income and education level, health insurance coverage, or whether the children were enrolled in a personalized education plan at school.

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