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Toddlers' Autistic Behaviors Linked to Preteen Psychosis

Mar 06, 2012 -- 6:16 am
Autistic-like behaviors in toddlers might predict psychotic events in adolescence, a retrospective study has determined.

Speech problems and ritualistic behaviors in 3- and 7-year-olds showed a particularly strong influence, increasing the risk of psychosis in preteens by up to 300%, Rhys Bevan Jones, Ph.D., and colleagues wrote in the March issue of Schizophrenia Research (Schizophr Res. 2012;135:164-9).

In the study, nearly 20% of children with these characteristics at age 7 went on to develop psychotic episodes by age 12.

"The findings of this study suggest that clinicians should ask about psychotic experiences in those with autistic traits," wrote Dr. Jones of Cardiff (Wales) University. "Clinicians should also assess for traits of autism in those who develop psychotic experiences (23% of those with psychotic experiences in adolescence had at least one autistic trait at the age of 3, and 10% had at least one psychotic trait at the age of 7). Clinical care is likely to be enhanced by careful consideration of premorbid and comorbid autistic traits that might be impacting on patient function."

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