Kennedy Krieger Researchers Share Findings on Autism, Behavioral Disorders, and Newborn Stroke at PAS Annual Meeting

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May 04, 2009

(Baltimore, Md) - Research presented by Kennedy Krieger Institute experts at the 2009 Pediatric Academic Societies' (PAS) Annual Meeting beginning May 2nd in Baltimore, Maryland offers important insights into autism spectrum disorder diagnostic guidelines, prescription drug trends for preschoolers with developmental and behavioral disorders, and the neurologic impact of newborn stroke.

Findings to be presented by Kennedy Krieger researchers at the PAS Annual Meeting include:

Determining the Effectiveness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Diagnostic Guidelines

"Trends In Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses: 1994-2007" (Poster #498)

Over the past two decades, knowledge about autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has grown to incorporate new findings on clinical presentation and etiology. However, this increase in information has left many clinicians unsatisfied with the guidelines used to identify and diagnose ASD. To summarize the current functioning of ASD diagnostic guidelines, Dr. Rebecca Rosenberg and colleagues collected data from the Interactive Autism Network, the national online autism registry at, to identify trends in initial ASD diagnoses from 1994-2007. The findings were published March 18 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders [epub ahead of print].

Among the 6,176 individuals studied, researchers found that the distribution of diagnoses was influenced by multiple factors, including ethnicity, race, geographic location, urbanicity and the initial evaluator. In addition, the study found those diagnosed by school-based teams are more likely to have negative autism screen test results. These same teams, more than other types of evaluators, are increasingly using certain diagnoses over others. Taken together, these findings suggest that current diagnostic guidelines for assessing developmental disabilities may not be meeting community evaluator needs.

Prescribing Practices for Behavioral Disorders in Preschoolers

"Prescribing Practices for Behavioral Disorders in a Medically-Based Preschool Development Clinic" (Poster #50)

While there is evidence supporting the use of short-acting methylphenidate stimulants in preschool children with behavior disorders, there is no such evidence substantiating the use of long-acting stimulants in the same population. In order to describe and document the prescribing practices in a large preschool population, Dr. Mary Leppert and colleagues conducted a retrospective review of one calendar year's worth of electronic medical records.

They studied the prescription history of 569 children, under the age of six, from one large developmental pediatrics clinic.

Their findings suggest that in this population of preschool children with development and behavioral disorders, one in five children was medicated for behavioral concerns. In addition, the study found that stimulant medications were prescribed most frequently, with long-acting stimulants accounting for 45 percent of the prescriptions written. With such a large proportion of long-acting stimulant use, this research could illuminate hypotheses to examine the use of these stimulants in preschool populations with behavioral disorders.

Relating the Effects of Stroke to Neural Stem Cell Proliferation

"Temporal dynamics of subgranular and rostral subventricular zone progenitor cell proliferation in a mouse model of neonatal stroke" (Poster #347)

Because stroke in the brains of newborn infants is an important and under-studied cause of neurologic morbidity, researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute have previously developed a new mouse model of stroke that produces acute seizures and tissue death due to lack of blood supply in 12-day old mice. In the current study, Dr. Anne Comi and colleagues looked at the effect of this stroke on neural stem cell proliferation, at different time-points after injury, in two brain regions. This study builds upon research previously published in peer-reviewed journals using this model and is currently in press in the Journal of Neuroscience Research. Their findings show that the stroke does affect the proliferation of neural stem cells; this work is expected to lead to other studies to help better understand the neurologic morbidity.

On-Site Details:

Corresponding researchers will be on-site and available for interviews:

  • Poster 498 to be presented by Dr. Rebecca Rosenberg
    on Monday, May 4, 9:00 - 1:00pm
  • Poster 50 to be presented by Dr. Mary Leppert
    on Saturday, May 2, 4:00 - 7:30pm
  • Poster 347 to be presented by Dr. Anne Comi
    on Sunday, May 3, 4:00 - 7:30pm

About the Kennedy Krieger Institute

Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord, the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD serves more than 13,000 individuals each year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with developmental concerns mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop while pioneering new interventions and earlier diagnosis. For more information on Kennedy Krieger Institute, visit

Megan Lustig

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