Pilot Study for Subgroup Classification for Autism Spectrum Disorder Based on Dysmorphology and Physical Measurements in Chinese Children

Saturday, May 19, 2012
Sheraton Hall (Sheraton Centre Toronto)
10:00 AM
P. T. Y. Wong and V. C. N. Wong, Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
Background:  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder affecting individuals along a continuum of severity in communication, social interaction and behaviour. The impact of ASD significantly varies amongst individuals, and the cause of ASD can originate broadly between genetic and environmental factors.

Objectives:  Previous ASD researches indicate that early identification combined with a targeted treatment plan involving behavioural interventions and multidisciplinary therapies can provide substantial improvement for ASD patients. Currently there is no cure for ASD, and the clinical variability and uncertainty of the disorder still remains.  Hence, the search to unravel heterogeneity within ASD by subgroup classification may provide clinicians with a better understanding of ASD and to work towards a more definitive course of action.

Methods:  In this study, a norm of physical measurements including height, weight, head circumference, ear length, outer and inner canthi, interpupillary distance, philtrum, hand and foot length was collected from 658 Typical Developing (TD) Chinese children aged 1 to 7 years (mean age of 4.19 years). The norm collected was compared against 80 ASD Chinese children aged 1 to 12 years (mean age of 4.36 years). We then further attempted to find subgroups within ASD based on identifying physical abnormalities; individuals were classified as (non)dysmorphic with the Autism Dysmorphology Measure (ADM) from physical examinations of 12 body regions.

Results:  Our results show that there were significant differences between ASD and TD children for measurements in: head circumference (p=0.009), outer (p=0.021) and inner (p=0.021) canthus, philtrum length (p=0.003), right (p=0.023) and left (p=0.20) foot length. Within the 80 ASD patients, 37(46%) were classified as dysmorphic (p=0.00).

Conclusions:  This study attempts to identify subgroups within ASD based on physical measurements and dysmorphology examinations.  The information from this study seeks to benefit ASD community by identifying possible subtypes of ASD in Chinese population; in seek for a more definitive diagnosis, referral and treatment plan.

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