A complex developmental condition that involves persistent challenges in social interaction, speech, and nonverbal communication, and restricted/repetitive behaviors, Autism has seen a 10-fold increase in prevalence in the last 40 years with approximately 1 in 54 children diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in America. And, the number only seems to be increasing.
Given the high ratio of children born with this disorder, it’s quite unfortunate that a relatively small number of specialists are actually trained to make a diagnosis. In fact, the longer families wait to receive a diagnosis, the longer it takes them to create effective intervention plans for those that they love. In just the time that they wait for an evaluation, they may have missed many opportunities to help their loved ones and instead struggle.
“Consequently, while diagnosis is possible in children as young as 18 months, the average age of ASD diagnosis in the United States today often exceeds 4 years of age,” notes Quadrant Biosciences. “Early diagnosis is important because intensive behavioral therapy has been shown to improve the symptoms of autism, and children benefit more from such intervention the earlier it is started.”
Quadrant Biosciences is a life science company, developing molecular diagnostic solutions for large-scale health issues. The company has entered into collaborative research relationships with a number of institutions including SUNY Upstate Medical University and Penn State University to explore and develop novel biomarker technologies with a focus on Autism Spectrum Disorder, concussion, and Parkinson's disease.
They conducted this study, as part of a collaborative effort between several leading autism researchers and clinicians, including Autism Speaks' Chief Science Officer and John Carroll University Professor Thomas Frazier Ph.D., ECHO Autism founder and University of Missouri School of Medicine Professor Kristin Sohl MD, and The Ohio State University College of Medicine Professor Daniel Coury MD.
The study, recently published in the Autism Research journal, looked at two recently researched and published biomarker technologies, a molecular saliva test, and a remote eye-gaze tracking technology.
The study concluded that the proper use and accuracy of known biomarkers would allow health care providers to detect possible autism spectrum disorder (ASD) much earlier in a child’s life and that early detection and treatment could save our healthcare networks billions of dollars saved in related costs.
The study, "Evidence-based Use of Scalable Biomarkers to Increase Diagnostic Efficiency and Decrease the Lifetime Costs of Autism," showed that if ASD were to be identified early on, more children could be referred for early intervention services and both government-supported healthcare and educational systems would realize a substantial cost savings of more than $37B a year.
Costs, associates with special education, medical and residential care, alone, would drop nearly $580K per child, $13.3B a year for education. Medical and residential care would realize a savings of $23.8B with roughly $11.2B in costs attributed to families using Medicaid.
"This study shows how implementing an accurate diagnostic measure to high-risk cases initially flagged from screening tools, can further inform clinical judgment and substantially improve early identification," said Dr. Thomas Frazier, one of the principal authors on the paper. "Our findings demonstrate the positive clinical and financial influences that implementing measures that inform ASD diagnosis can have, reinforcing the need to continue development of accurate, scalable biomarkers for ASD, such as these molecular and eye-tracking technologies."
According to the study, researchers sought to assess "the financial impact of initiating appropriate interventions faster and reducing the number of unnecessary diagnostic evaluations, through the adoption of accurate biomarkers.”
The study focused on two recently researched and published biomarker technologies: a molecular saliva test and a remote eye gazing tracking technology. These particular biomarker tests were selected because of their scalability and ease of implementation.