What’s in a name?

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: July 3rd, 2007
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

In their first year of life, babies take many developmental “baby steps.”

An ever-changing palate of facial expressions, endearing responses to parents’ voices, crawling and even the major milestone of walking can come during this magical year.

But new research finds that year-old youngsters who don’t respond when their name is called could be more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder or other developmental disorder at the age of two. Experts say this simple name test is a potential early red flag for such conditions, according to a recent report published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Previous research has shown that nearly half of parents whose children are eventually diagnosed with autism report worries about their child’s developmental progress before one year of age. The disorder, meanwhile, is often not diagnosed until age three or four.

Researchers recently evaluated forty-six at-risk infants and twenty-five healthy infants over a two–year period. Three-quarters of the children who did not respond to their name at twelve months of age had developmental problems at age two.

In contrast, eighty-nine percent of one-year-olds who did not have an autism spectrum disorder, including autism or Asperger’s syndrome… and ninety-four percent of infants without any developmental delays at two years… did respond when their name was called.

Experts concluded that failure to respond to name at the one-year check-up may be a useful indicator of children who would benefit from a more thorough developmental assessment.