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Autism needs to be considered in children with Down Syndrome

Journal article
Authors Ulrika Wester Oxelgren
Marie Åberg
Åsa Myrelid
Göran Annerén
Joakim Westerlund
Jan Gustafsson
Elisabeth Fernell
Published in Acta Paediatrica, International Journal of Paediatrics
ISSN 08035253
Publication year 2019
Published at Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Language en
Keywords Autism spectrum disorder, Behavioural phenotype, Down Syndrome, Intellectual Disability
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry


©2019 Foundation Acta Pædiatrica. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Aim: To analyse levels and profiles of autism symptoms in children with Down Syndrome (DS) with and without diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and to specifically study the groups with severe Intellectual Disability (ID). Methods: From a population-based cohort of 60 children with DS (age 5–17 years) with 41 participating children, scores obtained from the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) Module-1 algorithm were compared between those with and without diagnosed ASD. Children with DS and ASD were also compared to a cohort of children with idiopathic ASD, presented in the ADOS manual. Results: Children with DS and ASD had significantly higher ADOS scores in all domains compared to those without ASD. When the groups with DS, with and without ASD, were restricted to those with severe ID, the difference remained. When the children with DS and ASD and the idiopathic autism group were compared, the ADOS profiles were similar. Conclusion: A considerable proportion of children with DS has ASD, but there is also a group of children with DS and severe ID without autism. There is a need to increase awareness of the high prevalence of autism in children with DS to ensure that appropriate measures and care are provided.

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