Children with ADHD and Autism Frequently Visit Hospitals and Doctors in their Early Years
Children who are later diagnosed with autism and / or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder visit doctors and hospitals more often in their first year of life than unaffected children, suggesting a potential new way to identify conditions early.
Findings from researchers at Duke Health, published online Oct. 19 in the journal Scientific Reports, provide evidence that patterns of healthcare use in a baby’s first year can be gleaned from records electronic medical devices, serving as a roadmap for delivering timely diagnostics and treatment that could improve outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affects about 1.5% of children in the United States, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects about 11% of American children.
Symptoms of ADHD are also present in up to 60% of children with ASD. Diagnoses are associated with increased use of health care services, to the detriment of families.
This study proves that children who develop autism and ADHD are on a different path from the start. We know that children with these diagnoses have more interactions with the health care system after being diagnosed, but this indicates that distinct patterns of use begin early in these children’s lives. This could be an opportunity to intervene earlier. ”
Matthew Engelhard, M.D, Ph.D, senior study author and senior research associate, Duke University Medical Center
“Because of the brain’s inherent malleability – its neuroplasticity – early detection and intervention is essential for improving ASD outcomes, especially in terms of language and social skills. ”
Engelhard and his colleagues, including lead authors Dawson and Scott Kollins, Ph.D., used 10 years of data collected from the electronic health records of nearly 30,000 patients, primarily at Duke University Health System, which had had at least two well-child visits before an age.
Patients were grouped together as later diagnosed with ASD, ADHD, both conditions, or no diagnosis. The researchers then analyzed first-year records for hospital admissions, procedures, emergency room visits, and outpatient clinical appointments.
For children who were later found to have one or both diagnoses, their births tended to result in longer hospital stays than children without disorders.
Children later diagnosed with ASD had more procedures, including intubation and ventilation, and more outpatient specialist care visits for services such as physiotherapy and eye appointments.
Children who later turned out to have ADHD underwent more procedures, including blood transfusions, as well as more hospitalizations and more emergency room visits.
Studies show that treatments for these disorders work best when they start early in a child’s life, Dawson said. Understanding that there are signals available in a child’s electronic health record could help lead to earlier, more targeted therapies.
“We hope that these early use patterns can eventually be combined with other data sources to create automated monitoring tools to help parents and pediatricians identify children who will benefit most from assessment and treatment. early treatment, ”Kollins said.
The researchers said they plan to conduct additional analyzes to explore in more detail the specific health issues that prompted the additional doctor and hospital visits.
“We want to understand these distinctions in more detail and identify them as early as possible to make sure children have access to the resources they need,” Engelhard said.