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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 166-170

Age at diagnosis for autism spectrum disorders: Does it differ by place of residence?


1 Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Retired Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Correspondence Address:
Malhi Prahbhjot
Department of Pediatrics, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Sector 12, Chandigarh - 160 012
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijph.ijph_1801_21

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Background: Despite steady decline in the age of diagnosis (AOD) at the global level, it has not declined uniformly, and marked disparities are documented by income, education, race, and access to health care. Objectives: The objectives of the study are to examine the urban/rural disparities in the initial age of autism diagnosis and to understand the interplay of the underlying demographic and social factors. Methods: A retrospective case record review of all children who received their initial diagnosis of autism at the Pediatric Psychology Clinic (1997–2018) of a tertiary advanced pediatric center at Chandigarh was conducted. A structured abstraction data form was used to extract demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical information from the files maintained at the clinic. Results: A total of 1321 case records were examined. The mean AOD was 4.62 years (standard deviation = 2.38) and children from rural communities were diagnosed at 4.87 years, nearly 0.35 years later than urban children (t = 2.47, P = 0.013). Results indicated that 31.1% of the variance in the AOD for children from rural areas was predicted by two variables, namely the number of children in the family and total Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) score (F = 13.62, P = 0.001). For the urban sample, three variables emerged as significant predictors including the number of children in the family, total CARS score, and maternal education and these together explained 20.2% of the variance in the AOD (F = 19.60, P = 0.001). Conclusion: The public health system must be sensitized to the unmet needs of the marginalized socioeconomic groups to access diagnostic and management services in a timely manner.


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