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Autism May Be Overdiagnosed in the United States

Children with developmental delays may be receiving inaccurate diagnoses from nonspecialists

MONDAY, Oct. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — As many as 9 percent of American children diagnosed with autism may not have the disorder, according to a federal government study published online Oct. 20 in Autism.

Researchers used a probability-based national survey to compare 1,420 currently diagnosed and 187 previously diagnosed children ages 6 to 17 years.

Approximately 13 percent of the children ever diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder were estimated to have “lost” the diagnosis. Parents of 74 percent of these children believed the modification of diagnosis was due to new information.

“The results of this study suggest that some children with developmental delays, attentional flexibility problems, or other conditions may be receiving provisional yet inaccurate diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder from nonspecialists,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of Washington researchers write.

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