Study IDs Factors Linked to Delayed ASD Diagnosis in Latinos

(HealthDay News) – Delayed identification of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Latino children is due to multiple factors, including limited general developmental and ASD screening in Spanish, difficulties in assessing ASD risk in primarily Spanish-speaking families, and lack of access to developmental specialists, according to a study published online Aug. 19 in Pediatrics.

Katharine E. Zuckerman, MD, MPH, from the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues surveyed 267 primary care pediatricians in California about identifying ASD among Latino children.

The researchers found that 81% of pediatricians offered developmental screening, 29% offered Spanish ASD screening, and 10% offered both Spanish general developmental and Spanish ASD screening. Most pediatricians reported that assessing ASD risk was more difficult in Latino children whose families primarily spoke Spanish compared with white children. Access to developmental specialists was cited as the most frequent barrier to identification of ASD in Latinos.

“Multiple factors in the primary care setting may contribute to delayed ASD identification for Latinos,” Zuckerman and colleagues conclude. “Promoting language-appropriate screening, disseminating culturally-appropriate ASD materials to Latino families, improving the specialist workforce, and providing primary care pediatrician support in screening and referral of Latino children may be important ways to reduce racial and ethnic differences in care.”

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