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Click-evoked auditory brainstem responses and autism spectrum disorder: A meta-analytic review.

Autism Res. 2018 Mar 30;:

Authors: Talge NM, Tudor BM, Kileny PR

Behavior does not differentiate ASD risk prior to 12 months of age, but biomarkers may inform risk before symptoms emerge. Click-evoked auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) may be worth consideration due to their measurement properties (noninvasiveness; reliability) and conceptual features (well-characterized neural generators), but participant characteristics and assessment protocols vary considerably across studies. Our goal is to perform a meta-analysis of the association between ABRs and ASD. Following an electronic database search (PubMed, Medline, PsycInfo, PsycArticles), we included papers that were written in English, included ASD and typically-developing (TD) groups, and reported the information needed to calculate standardized mean differences (Hedges’s g) for at least one ABR latency component (I, III, V, I-III, III-V, I-V). We weighted and averaged effect sizes across conditions and subsets of participants to yield one estimate per component per study. We then performed random-effects regressions to generate component-specific estimates. ASD was associated with longer ABR latencies for Waves III (g = 0.5, 95% CI 0.1, 0.9), V (g = 0.7, 95% CI 0.3, 1.1), I-III (g = 0.7, 95% CI 0.2, 1.2), and I-V (g = 0.6, 95% CI 0.2, 1.0). All components showed significant heterogeneity. Associations were strongest among participants ≤8 years of age and those without middle ear abnormalities or elevated auditory thresholds. In sum, associations between ABRs and ASD are medium-to-large in size, but exhibit heterogeneity. Identifying sources of heterogeneity is challenging, however, due to power limitations and co-occurrence of sample/design characteristics across studies. Research addressing the above limitations is crucial to determining the etiologic and/or prognostic value of ABRs for ASD. Autism Res 2018. © 2018 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
LAY SUMMARY: Auditory brainstem responses (ABR) may be associated with ASD, but participant characteristics and assessment protocols vary considerably across individual studies. Our goal is to combine the results across these studies to facilitate clarity on the topic. Doing so represents a first step in evaluating whether ABRs yield potential for informing the etiology of ASD risk and/or ASD symptom profiles.

PMID: 29603654 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

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