Towards a Data-Driven Approach to Screen for Autism Risk at 12 Months of Age

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Objective: This study aimed to develop a classifier for infants at 12 months of age based on a parent-report measure (the First Year Inventory 2.0 [FYI]), for the following reasons: (1) to classify infants at elevated risk, above and beyond that attributable to familial risk status for ASD; and (2) to serve as a starting point to refine an approach for risk estimation in population samples. Method: A total of 54 high−familial risk (HR) infants later diagnosed with ASD (HR-ASD), 183 HR infants not diagnosed with ASD at 24 months of age (HR-Neg), and 72 low-risk controls participated in the study. All infants contributed FYI data at 12 months of age and had a diagnostic assessment for ASD at age 24 months. A data-driven, cross-validated analytic approach was used to develop a classifier to determine screening accuracy (eg, sensitivity) of the FYI to classify HR-ASD and HR-Neg. Results: The newly developed FYI classifier had an estimated sensitivity of 0.71 (95% CI: 0.50, 0.91) and specificity of 0.72 (95% CI: 0.49, 0.91). Conclusion: This classifier demonstrates the potential to improve current screening for ASD risk at 12 months of age in infants already at elevated familial risk for ASD, increasing opportunities for detection of autism risk in infancy. Findings from this study highlight the utility of combining parent-report measures with machine learning approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-977
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • first year
  • high-risk
  • parent report
  • screening


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