(HealthDay News) — An initial attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnosis may be associated with delayed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis, according to a study published online September 14 in Pediatrics.

Amir Miodovnik, MD, MPH, from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues analyzed parent-reported data from the 2011–2012 National Survey of Children’s Health. Using weighted prevalence estimates, the authors sought to assess the association between a previous diagnosis of ADHD and the age at ASD diagnosis.

The researchers found that among 1,496 children (aged 2–17 years) with a current diagnosis of ASD, 20% had initially been diagnosed with ADHD. Children diagnosed with ADHD first were nearly 30 times more likely to receive their ASD diagnosis after 6 years of age. This delay in ASD diagnosis was independent of ASD severity.

“To avoid potential delays in ASD diagnosis, clinicians should consider ASD in young children presenting with ADHD symptoms,” the authors write.

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