Age of diagnosis among Medicaid-enrolled children with autism, 2001-2004.

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TitleAge of diagnosis among Medicaid-enrolled children with autism, 2001-2004.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsMandell, DS, Morales, KH, Xie, M, Lawer, LJ, Stahmer, AC, Marcus, SC
JournalPsychiatr Serv
Date Published2010 Aug
KeywordsAge Factors, Age of Onset, Autistic Disorder, Child, Child Development Disorders, Pervasive, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Ethnic Groups, Female, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Medicaid, Poverty Areas, United States

OBJECTIVE: This study examined child- and county-level factors associated with age of diagnosis of autism among Medicaid-enrolled children and the change in age of diagnosis over time.METHODS: National Medicaid claims from 2002 to 2004 were used to identify age of diagnosis and characteristics of children younger than ten years old with a diagnosis of autism (ICD-9 codes 299, 299.0x, or 299.8x). These data were linked to county-level education and health care variables. Linear regression with random effects for state and county was used to examine associations between these variables and age of diagnosis.RESULTS: A total of 28,722 Medicaid-enrolled children newly diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder were identified. Their average age of diagnosis was 64.9 months. Adjusted average age of diagnosis dropped 5.0 months for autistic disorder and 1.8 months for other spectrum disorders during the study period. Asian children were diagnosed earlier than children in other racial or ethnic groups, although these differences were much more pronounced for other spectrum disorders than for autistic disorder. Children eligible for Medicaid through the poverty category were diagnosed earlier, on average, than children who were eligible through disability, foster care, or other reasons, although this difference decreased over time. Children in large urban or rural counties were diagnosed later than children in small urban or suburban counties.CONCLUSIONS: Findings showed that diagnosis of autism occurs much later than it should among Medicaid-enrolled children, although timeliness is improving over time. Analyses suggest that most of the observed variation is accounted for by child-level variables, rather than county-level resources or state policies.

Alternate JournalPsychiatr Serv
PubMed ID20675842
PubMed Central IDPMC2966012
Grant ListR01 MH077000 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01-MH-077000 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01 MH077000-05 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
MH-073903 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
K01 MH073903 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
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