Picture: A baby 
At six months all children
respond to their name the
same way; © SXC

Aparna S. Nadig, Ph.D., of the M.I.N.D. Institute, University of California Davis, Sacramento, and colleagues assessed the tendency of infants to respond when their names are called, which is "one of the most consistently documented behaviours in infancy that distinguishes children later diagnosed with autism from those with typical development or developmental delays," they write in a report.

Infants whose older siblings had autism, and who were therefore at risk for autism, were compared with control infants. While each child sat at a table playing with a small toy, a researcher walked behind the child and called his or her name in a clear voice. If the child did not respond after 3 seconds, the name was called again up to twice.

"At age six months, there was a non-significant trend for control infants to require a fewer number of calls to respond to name than infants at risk for autism," the authors write. "At age 12 months, 100 percent of the infants in the control group 'passed,' responding on the first or second name call, while 86 percent in the at-risk group did."

Forty-six at-risk infants and 25 control infants were followed up for two years; three-fourths of those who did not respond to their name at age 12 months were identified with developmental problems at age two. A total of 89 percent of infants who did not have an autism spectrum and 94 percent of infants without any developmental delays at two years responded to their name on the first two calls at one year.

"Thus, failure to respond to name at the well-child one-year check-up may be a useful indicator of children who would benefit from a more thorough developmental assessment," the authors write. "It will not, however, identify all children at risk for developmental problems."

MEDICA.de; Source: JAMA and Archives Journals