Low Rates of Genetic Testing in Children With Developmental Delays, Intellectual Disability, and Autism Spectrum Disorders


To explore the routine and effective use of genetic testing for patients with intellectual disability and developmental delay (ID/DD), we conducted a prospective, randomized observational study of 231 general pediatricians (40%) and specialists (60%), using simulated patients with 9 rare pediatric genetic illnesses. Participants cared for 3 randomly assigned simulated patients, and care responses were scored against explicit evidence-based criteria. Scores were calculated as a percentage of criteria completed. Care varied widely, with a median overall score of 44.7% and interquartile range of 36.6% to 53.7%. Diagnostic accuracy was low: 27.4% of physicians identified the correct primary diagnosis. Physicians ordered chromosomal microarray analysis in 55.7% of cases. Specific gene sequence testing was used in 1.4% to 30.3% of cases. This study demonstrates that genetic testing is underutilized, even for widely available tests. Further efforts to educate physicians on the clinical utility of genetic testing may improve diagnosis and care in these patients.


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