Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental condition that is usually diagnosed in childhood but lasts a lifetime. Over the last couple of decades, there has been a tremendous rise in this condition. CDC statistics show that Autism Spectrum Disorders currently affect approximately 1 in 88 children born in the United States.
Several controversies exist regarding the stage at which this condition can be dictated through an ultrasound scan. A study, led by Michigan State University earlier in 2013 found that an ultrasound scan within the first few days of life may already be able to detect brain abnormalities that indicate a higher risk of developing autism.
The New England Journal of Medicine in March 2014 reported that this condition appears to develop well before birth in the womb itself.
According to the researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, autistic children may show faster growth rates at the 20-week gestational mark than their normal peers. Presented at the International Congress of the Royal College of psychiatrists (RCPsych) 2014, the study is expected to help diagnose and treat autism at an early stage itself.
Ultrasound scans were examined for 40 children who were later diagnosed with the disorder and for 120 children who did not develop the disorder. Fetal data for head circumference, cerebellar diameter, femur length, abdominal circumference, and ventricular atrial width were assessed from the scans. The study showed that children who had autism were growing at a faster rate at the 18- to 24-week gestational point than the healthy control individuals. These new results have the potential to be very helpful to clinicians and other healthcare providers.
Physicians performing these scans should also be aware that for each ultrasound service performed/coded, the following medical documents are necessary:
- A written interpretation and report must be completed and maintained in the patient’s medical record. The report must describe the structures or organs studied and provide an interpretation of the findings.
- The medical record documentation must indicate why the test was medically necessary.
- Appropriate image(s) with measurements of the relevant anatomy / pathology (when clinically indicated) must be permanently stored and made available for future review.