Accuracy of autism screening using M-CHAT plus the follow-up interview (M-CHAT/F) for children screened positive at 18-months was compared to screening at 24-months. Formal ASD testing was criterion for a community sample of M-CHAT positive children (n = 98), positive predictive value (PPV) was 0.40 for the M-CHAT and 0.58 for the M-CHAT/F. MCHAT/F PPV was 0.69 among children 20+ months compared to 0.36 for <20 months. Multivariate analyses incorporating data from the Ages and Stages Questionnaire, MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory, M-CHAT and M-CHAT/F results, and M-CHAT items suggest language variables carry greatest relative importance in contributing to an age-based algorithm with potential to improve PPV for toddlers <20 months to the same level as observed in older toddlers.
Keywords: Autism screening; Developmental screening; M-CHAT; Toddler development.