Performance of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers in Spanish-Speaking Patients

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Objective.To compare abnormal screening rates of 2 different Spanish versions of the Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) in US Spanish-speaking patients.Method.Quasi-experimental design was used with historical and English language controls. Abnormal screening rates were compared between Spain and Westernhemisphere Spanish versions, as well as to English controls during the same time periods using chi square analysis.Results.M-CHAT questionnaires were scored from 589 subjects (English n = 415, Spanish n = 174). There was little difference between Spanish versions. Overall, the Spanish abnormal screening rate was double that of English (23.6% vs 11.3%, P < .001).Conclusions.Spanish M-CHAT questionnaires are abnormal more often than those in English even after changing to appropriate translation, despite lower prevalence of autism in Latinos. Issues with translation, interpretation, or cultural understanding of behaviors may contribute. Given abnormal screening rates for Latinos, the use of the M-CHAT follow-up interview in Spanish-speaking patients is beneficial but may be more time-consuming.

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