HealthDay News — The Social Attention and Communication Surveillance-Revised (SACS-R) with SACS-Preschool (SACS-PR) has high diagnostic accuracy for the identification of autism in a community-based sample of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, according to a study published online March 11 in JAMA Network Open.

Josephine Barbaro, PhD, from La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the diagnostic accuracy of the SACS-R and SACS-PR tools when used with a large, community-based, convenience sample of 13,511 children aged 11 to 42 months receiving a routine child health consultation (June 1, 2013, to July 31, 2018).

The researchers found that at 12 to 24 months of age, SACS-R showed high diagnostic accuracy, with an 83% positive predictive value and 99% estimated negative predictive value. Specificity was high (99.6%), while sensitivity was modest (62%). With the addition of the SACS-PR at the 42-month assessment, estimated sensitivity increased to 96%. Between ages 11 and 30 months, autism prevalence was 2% (1 in 50) and increased to 3.3% (1 in 31) at ages 11 to 42 months.

“Its greater accuracy compared with psychometrics of commonly used autism screening tools when used in community-based samples suggests that the SACS-R+PR can be used universally for the early identification of autism,” the authors write.

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