Pediatrician identification of Latino children at risk for autism spectrum disorder

Katharine E. Zuckerman, Kimber Mattox, Karen Donelan, Oyundari Batbayar, Anita Baghaee, Christina Bethell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Latino-white disparities in age at autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis may be modified by primary care pediatrician (PCP) practices and beliefs. The objectives of this study were to assess ASD and developmental screening practices, attitudes toward ASD identification in Latino children, and barriers to ASD identification for Latino children, in a sample of 267 California PCPs. METHODS: In mail-based PCP survey, we assessed rates of bilingual general developmental and ASD screening, perceptions of parent ASD knowledge in Latino and white families, reports of difficulty assessing for ASDs in Latino and white children, and perceptions of barriers to early ASD identification for Latinos. RESULTS: Although 81% of PCPs offered some form of developmental screening, 29% of PCPs offered Spanish ASD screening per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, and only 10% offered both Spanish general developmental and Spanish ASD screening per American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. Most PCPs thought that Latino (English and Spanish primary family language) parents were less knowledgeable about ASDs than white parents. PCPs had more difficulty assessing ASD risk for Latino children with Spanish primary family language than for white children, even when the PCP conducted recommended ASD screening or had >25% Latino patients. The most frequent barrier to ASD identification in Latinos was access to developmental specialists. CONCLUSIONS: Multiple factors in the primary care setting may contribute to delayed ASD identification for Latinos. Promoting languageappropriate screening, disseminating culturally appropriate ASD materials to Latino families, improving the specialist workforce, and providing PCP support in screening and referral of Latino children may be important ways to reduce racial and ethnic differences in care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-453
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Child development
  • Developmental disabilities
  • Developmental screening
  • Health care disparities
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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