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South African Journal of Child Health

versão On-line ISSN 1999-7671
versão impressa ISSN 1994-3032


SPRINGER, P E; VAN TOORN, R; LAUGHTON, B  e  KIDD, M. Characteristics of children with pervasive developmental disorders attending a developmental clinic in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. S. Afr. j. child health [online]. 2013, vol.7, n.3, pp.95-99. ISSN 1999-7671.

BACKGROUND: Little has been published on autism in Africa, and it is not known whether South African children present with the same characteristics and challenges as described internationally. OBJECTIVES: To describe the demographics, history, clinical features, co-morbidity and yield of aetiological investigations in children diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). METHODS: This was a retrospective review of medical records of children fulfilling Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition, text revision (DSM-IV-TR) criteria for a PDD who attended a tertiary developmental clinic at Tygerberg Hospital, Western Cape, South Africa, over a 2-year period (2008 - 2010). RESULTS: Fifty-eight children were included. The median age at diagnosis was 42 months (range 15 - 106 months), and 45 (77.6%) were boys. Forty per cent had complex autism (dysmorphism with or without microcephaly), and 12.1% were macrocephalic. Most children (72.4%) were non-verbal (using fewer than 10 non-echoed words), and 89.0% had behavioural problems as reported by caregivers. The diagnostic yield of investigations was low. CONCLUSION: The profile of children with PDD attending a tertiary hospital developmental clinic in the Western Cape revealed that a high proportion had severe language impairment, behavioural problems and complex autism.

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