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June 2016

Why It’s Important to Continue Universal Autism Screening While Research Fully Examines Its Impact

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
JAMA Pediatr. 2016;170(6):527-528. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0163

McPheeters et al1 provided a systematic review of the evidence that was used by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) to make its recent recommendations on universal autism screening.2 The USPSTF concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to assess the benefits of universal screening for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in young children. In particular, the USPSTF noted that no study has directly compared the long-term outcomes of screened vs nonscreened children and, further, studies of the efficacy of early ASD treatment have not been based on samples identified through screening. Thus, the USPSTF concludes that the long-term benefits and harms of screening in the general population cannot yet be determined.