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Difference in Age at Regression in Children with Autism with and without Down Syndrome

Castillo, Heidi MD*; Patterson, Bonnie MD*∥; Hickey, Francis MD*∥; Kinsman, Anne PhD‡; Howard, Jennifer M. BS§; Mitchell, Terry†; Molloy, Cynthia A. MD, MS†‖

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: April 2008 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - pp 89-93
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318165c78d
Original Article

Objective: Autism occurs more frequently in individuals with Down syndrome than it does in the general population. Among children with autism and Down syndrome, regression is reported to occur in up to 50%. The aim of this study was to characterize and compare regression in children with autism with and without Down syndrome.

Methods: In this case-control study, children with Down syndrome and autism characterized by a history of developmental regression (n = 12) were compared to children with autism with regression who did not have Down syndrome, matched for chronologic age and gender. Comparisons were made on age at acquisition of language and age at loss of language and other skills as measured by the Autism Diagnostic Interview–Revised (ADI-R).

Results: The mean age at acquisition of meaningful use of single words was 40.6 months (SD = 38.0) in children with Down syndrome and autism compared to 14.9 months (SD = 8.5) in children with autism without Down syndrome (p = .005). The mean age at language loss in children with autism with Down syndrome was 61.8 months (SD = 22.9) compared to 19.7 months (SD = 5.8) for those with autism without Down syndrome (p = .01). The mean age at other skill loss was 46.2 months (SD = 19.1) and 19.5 months (SD = 5.6), respectively (p = .006).

Conclusions: When regression occurs in children with autism and Down syndrome it is, on average, much later than is typically seen in children with autism without Down syndrome.

*Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and †Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio; ‡Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, Greenville Hospital System Children's Hospital, Greenville, South Carolina; §University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Lexington, Kentucky; |∥Department of Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Received August 2007; accepted December 2007.

Address for reprints: Cynthia A. Molloy, M.D., MLC 5041, Center for Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, 3333 Burnet Avenue, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039; e-mail: cynthia.molloy@cchmc.org.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.