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Barry Wright, Mark Mon-Williams, Brian Kelly, Stefan Williams, David Sims, Faisal Mushtaq, Kuldeep Sohal, Jane Elizabeth Blackwell and John Wright
We set out to test whether the early years foundation stage profile (EYFSP) score derived from 17 items assessed by teachers at the end of reception school year had any association with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis in subsequent years. This study tested the feasibility of successfully linking education and health data.
A retrospective data linkage study.
Setting and participants
The Born in Bradford longitudinal cohort of 13,857 children.
We linked the EYFSP score at the end of reception year with subsequent diagnosis of an ASD, using all ASD general practitioner Read codes. We used the total EYFSP score and a subscore consisting of five key items in the EYFSP, prospectively identified using a panel of early years autism experts.
This study demonstrated the feasibility of linking education and health data using ASDs as an exemplar. A total of 8,935 children had linked primary care and education data with 20.7% scoring <25 on the total EYFSP and 15.2% scoring <10 on a EYFSP subscore proposed by an expert panel prospectively. The rate of diagnosis of ASDs at follow-up was just under 1% (84 children), children scoring <25 on the total EYFSP had a 4.1% chance of ASD compared with 0.15% of the remaining children. Using the prospectively designed subscore, this difference was greater (6.4% and 0.12%, respectively).
We demonstrate the feasibility of linking education and health data. Performance on teacher ratings taken universally in school reception class can flag children at risk of ASDs. Further research is warranted to explore the utility of EYFSP as an initial screening tool for ASD in early school years.