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Autism Survey Says...

More than 80 percent of parents with an autistic child would have future children tested for risk of the disease if a molecular risk assay were available, according to a survey published this week.

The report, in Clinical Pediatrics, is based on analysis of 162 online survey respondents. A group of researchers from several universities, acting as paid consultants or partners to the diagnostics firm IntegraGen — which is, not coincidentally, developing an array-based autism risk test — used a web survey system to ask families questions about their experience with ASD diagnosis and their opinions on genetic risk testing.

According to the group, the study was designed to help the team "better understand parental experiences … assess anxiety levels regarding the recurrence risk of ASD, and to obtain parental opinions regarding the use of a genetic risk assessment test to evaluate risk for ASD in a younger child."

Among the 162 respondents, the mean reported wait time for an ASD diagnosis was 35.2 months. The cohort reported that their children were diagnosed at around 56 months old on average.

Seventy-two percent of families in the survey felt there was a delay in diagnosis for their child, and 80 percent indicated they would want to pursue genetic testing if a test were available that could identify risk in a younger sibling, for reasons including the possibility of earlier intervention, closer monitoring, and relief from anxiety.

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