Children and adolescents with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to have co-occurring conditions such as developmental delay and speech problems, researchers in the US have claimed.

Writing in the journal Pediatrics, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health examined the relationship between co-occurring conditions in children with ASD and whether their ASD diagnosis remained stable or changed

The study, 'Co-occurring Conditions and Change in Diagnosis in Autism Spectrum Disorders', found that the type and number of co-occurring conditions vary by children's age. These conditions include anxiety, depression, developmental delay, speech problems and seizures.

"Our study found that children with a current ASD are more likely to have co-occurring conditions compared to children who no longer have an ASD diagnosis," said Heather Close, the study's lead author.

Co-occurring conditions of ASD varied by age, among the youngest children, those with a current ASD diagnosis were more likely to have a moderate/severe developmental delay and moderate/severe learning disability compared to children who no longer had the diagnosis.

At ages 6 to 11, children with ASD had past speech problems, as well as current moderate/severe anxiety disorders, compared to children who no longer had the diagnosis.

Senior author Li-Ching Lee, a psychiatric epidemiologist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health had this advice for parents: "They should have their child evaluated for possible co-existing conditions, that way, a more appropriate intervention for the child can be planned as early as possible."

This article originally appeared on our sister website www.ldtonline.co.uk, written by dan.parton@pavilion-interactive.co.uk