OBJECTIVE: The purpose of the study was to examine use of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) as an autism-specific screening instrument in a large, geographically diverse pediatrics-based sample.
METHODS: The M-CHAT and the M-CHAT Follow-Up (M-CHAT/F) were used to screen 18 989 toddlers at pediatric well-child visits in 2 US geographic regions. Pediatricians directly referred children to ascertain potential missed screening cases. Screen-positive children received the M-CHAT/F; children who continued to screen positive after the M-CHAT/F received a diagnostic evaluation.
RESULTS: Results indicated that 54% of children who screened positive on the M-CHAT and M-CHAT/F presented with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and 98% presented with clinically significant developmental concerns warranting intervention. An M-CHAT total score cutoff of ≥3 identifies nearly all screen-positive cases, and for ease of scoring the use of only the M-CHAT total score cutoff is recommended. An M-CHAT total score of 7 serves as an appropriate clinical cutoff, and providers can bypass the M-CHAT/F and refer immediately to evaluation and intervention if a child obtains a score of ≥7.
CONCLUSIONS: This study provides empirical support for the utility of population screening for ASD with the use of the M-CHAT in a primary care setting. Results suggest that the M-CHAT continues to be an effective screening instrument for ASD when the 2-step screening process is used. The M-CHAT is widely used at pediatric offices, and this study provides updated results to facilitate use and scoring of the M-CHAT by clinical providers.
- AAP —
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- ASD —
- autism spectrum disorder
- DSM-IV —
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition
- GSU —
- Georgia State University
- M-CHAT —
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers
- M-CHAT/F —
- Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers Follow-Up
- PPV —
- positive predictive value
- UConn —
- University of Connecticut
- Accepted December 18, 2012.
- Copyright © 2013 by the American Academy of Pediatrics