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Pediatricians urge autism screening

Rating

3 Star

Pediatricians urge autism screening

Our Review Summary

Although this was a well written, interesting piece about a professional organization’s effort at promoting early screening for autism, any story about screening ought to include information about the courses of action that might be taken based on the results of the testing. With any testing, it is important for people to understand the impact of test results that incorrectly identify individuals as either having or not having the condition in question. The story did not make clear what the strength of the evidence is for these new screening recommendations.  And there was no discussion about whether the additional of a developmental assessment would increase the cost of traditional checkups. This could be a big issue, since "recommended treatment should include at least 25 hours a week of intensive behavior-based therapy."  How much will that cost? 

 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

There was no discussion about whether the additional of a developmental assessment would increase the cost of traditional checkups. This could be a big issue, since "recommended treatment should include at least 25 hours a week of intensive behavior-based therapy."  How much will that cost?  

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

Although stressing that early intervention reduced the severity of autism, the story did not provide any quantification of this benefit beyond the hope that it might help children lead more normal lives.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

One of the doctors quoted in the story mentioned that he now has parents that are concerned about autism whereas 10 years ago they did not know what it was. However the story did not follow this thread in terms of possible harms of treatment from labeling children as autistic who are later found not to be affected.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

Failure to provide evidence of benefit to be obtained from early screening was the biggest omission with this piece. This story only reports the recommendation w/o any presentation on the evidence to support the recommendation, e.g. accuracy of screening exams, trials of screening, evidence for resulting treatments.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story did provide the prevalence of autism and in describing the disorder, explained that it covered a range from mild to more severe. It would have been better if, in addition to providing an estimate for the prevalence of autistm,it provided a reference for interpreting how this compares in terms of frequency of occurence with some other psychological disorders.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

Two clinicians were quoted in this story in addition to the two clincians who are co-authors of the American Academy of Pediatrics reports on autism screening.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The alternatives are – don’t screen, screen at a different frequency or in different age groups.  Although not very explicit about this, the story was satisfactory.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

This is a story about a recommendation that pediatricians screen children for autism at 18 and 24 months of age as part of their regular visit. While mentioning that some pediatricians go beyond this standard and may schedule specific time to check for developmental problems, the story provided the balance that an additional exam component may be difficult to fit into the regular wellness checkup schedule.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The story was clear that it was discussing increasing the use of autism screening in the toddler population.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Does not appear to rely exclusively on a press release, as several independent sources were interviewed.

Total Score: 6 of 10 Satisfactory

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