Researchers Find Hispanic Children Less Likely To Be Diagnosed With Autism

| by Taylor Bell
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New research suggests Hispanic children are less likely to be diagnosed with autism than white children, according to researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

The researchers, led by Dr. Katherine Zuckerman, a pediatrician at Oregon Health & Science University, surveyed about 270 primary care physicians from California to check how they screened for autism. California has the highest population of Hispanic children of any state.

The survey showed more than 80 percent of primary care physicians offered some form of developmental screening, but only 29 percent offered Spanish-language screening, as advised by the American Academy of Pediatrics, reports CBS News.

Previous studies have also shown minority children are usually diagnosed with autism later with 2.5 years later than white children.

About 75 of surveyed doctors reported in the Aug. 19 issue of Pediatrics that language and cultural barriers are to blame for the failure to diagnosis Hispanic children with autism earlier. Access to developmental specialists also proved a barrier to earlier diagnosis.

"We need to try to increase the information availability [to Hispanic parents]," Zuckerman said to HealthDay. "Parents need to know the early signs of autism." These signs can include language delays, a lack of eye contact, not wanting to play games such as peekaboo where the child interacts and playing with toys in an unusual way, reports CBS News.

The researchers hope cheaper screening tools will be developed to break down the barriers in Hispanic patients’ diagnosis. One campaign, the Center for Disease Control's "Learn the Signs. Act Early," is one such example of a patient-focused effort that reaches out to Spanish-speaking Americans.

A similar example came earlier this year when Autism Speaks released a "Maybe" campaign, which targeted minority parents and encouraged them to seek medical help if they had any doubts about their children’s development. The campaign was released in both English and Spanish.

Source: CBS News

Photo: Tim Boyle/Getty Images