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Childhood disintegrative disorder and autism spectrum disorder: a systematic review

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Chirag Mehra, Annesha Sil, Tammy Hedderly, Marinos Kyriakopoulos, Ming Lim, Jessica Turnbull, Francesca Happe, Gillian Baird, Michael Absoud

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 25 Oct 2018

King's Authors


Aim: In an attempt to clarify the debate surrounding the diagnostic validity of childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), we systematically reviewed its characteristics and compared it with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Method: Four databases were searched (PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, and Web of Science). Included articles had participants with CDD, as defined by symptoms present in the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision and the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. Comparison groups were those with ASD and ASD with regression. Case studies were excluded. Results: Twenty articles, comprising 96 participants with CDD (80 males, 16 females), were included. Most studies were cross-sectional. The prevalence of CDD was 1.1 to 9.2 per 100 000, with a mean age at regression of 3 years 2 months (SD 1y 1mo), with a range of 2 years to 7 years. In addition to core CDD symptoms, most had intellectual impairment, anxiety, challenging behaviours, and regressed in toileting skills. Participants with CDD and ASD shared core diagnostic and extra-diagnostic features. However, participants with CDD seemed to have more severe symptoms and a different symptom profile, including apparently typical development before regression, faster regression, more affective symptoms, and more global developmental deficit. Possible genetic and autoimmune neurobiological mechanisms were identified. Interpretation: There is limited high-quality evidence describing the aetiology and outcomes of CDD. However, given the qualitative and prognostic differences between ASD and CDD, we recommend that future diagnostic criteria should distinguish late-onset regression.

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